Atlanta Music Scene

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Gregg Allman talks health, Laid Back Festival and new album

The plan was for Gregg Allman’s Laid Back Festival to launch in his home state of Georgia with a show at Lakewood Amphitheatre.

That was in May.

Joining Allman for the show (and tour of a few cities) would be ZZ Top, Blackberry Smoke, Michelle Malone and others.

But a spring injury to ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill required show postponements and now, Allman will end, rather than begin, the Laid Back Festival at Lakewood on Saturday.

Of course, in late summer, Allman fans received a scare when the venerable musician canceled a slew of dates because of a “serious illness” that required treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

But the ever-resilient Southern rocker bounced back a month earlier than expected, taking the stage at the Laid Back tour stop at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado last month.

Earlier this week, my buddy Kaedy Kiely of 97.1 The River invited me to join her for an interview with Allman. You can hear more by following this link , but here are some excerpts from our conversation.

Gregg Allman on his current health:

“I had a little bout with pneumonia. It was pretty rough, but it’s over now and I feel 100 percent better.”

How the Laid Back Festival originated:

“(Concert promoter) Live Nation and I have been working together for a long time and it was kind of their idea and we expounded on it and it happened. Most festivals are about music and Laid Back is about music and food. Any time we play we get all the gourmet chefs we can.”

On his history with ZZ Top:

“I’ve known Billy Gibbons since we were pumping gas, since we were all just broke! We all used to play this little club in L.A. in the Valley called, of all things, the Magic Mushroom. Every time we get together we talk about it.”

On staying fit:

“I’m gluten free. I’m really picky about the stuff I eat and that’s hard to do on the road. Back in ’95 I cleaned up everything. I stopped smoking, drinking, snorting, everything. It was not fun.”

On his upcoming album, “Southern Blood,” which he and his band recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama:

“Oh, God, that was fun. We walked it and it looked just like it used to. I hadn’t been there since 1967. They had analog machines. That’s the only way I’ll record.”

On writing his autobiography, 2012’s “My Cross to Bear”:

“(The book) was mostly my journal – in case I got too old to go out and play or if something happened to me, at least I could sit in a rocking chair on the porch and re-live it. I started writing it by hand and recording on cassette…I had 160 cassettes in a bag. My manager came over one day and said, ‘What’s in that big bag?’ and I said, ‘My life.’”


Laid Back Festival

With Gregg Allman, ZZ Top, Blackberry Smoke, Michelle Malone, Gabriel Kelley, Stonerider, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and Mother’s Finest. 4 p.m. Oct. 29. $32-$112. Lakewood Amphitheatre, 2002 Lakewood Way, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000,

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for Atlanta Music Scene blog on