He may have been born a ramblin' man, but above all else, Gregg Allman is a survivor.
The former poster boy for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll co-founded the Allman Brothers Band in 1969 in Jacksonville, Fla., with his late brother, slide guitarist Duane.
The group's jam-band sensibilities, their seamless meld of double drummers (Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson) and their seminal 1971 live album "At Fillmore East" are all stuff of legend, as are the struggles with substance abuse and the motorcycle crashes that claimed the lives of Duane and bassist Berry Oakley.
Allman still plays the Hammond B-3 organ and sings with the latest Brothers lineup that includes Trucks' son Derek as Duane's sort-of spiritual torch-bearer on slide guitar. He has also launched solo projects in which he plays an occasional guitar, and his last album, "Low Country Blues" (released in 2011), resurrected tunes by such blues giants as Little Milton and Muddy Waters. He will perform some of those songs when his current band hits the Crest Theatre on Wednesday night.
The 65-year-old Allman, who has embraced sobriety for the past 17 years, recently shared some of the high (and low) lights from his storied career in his autobiography "My Cross to Bear," which was published in May. Among the reveals: He's been married and divorced six times; he used to consume up to two quarts of vodka a day (he underwent a liver transplant in 2010); oh, and he once contemplated a career in the medical field.
The soft-spoken Southern bluesman-rocker recently called during a visit to Jacksonville to chat about his upcoming show in Sacramento and all things Allman.
I just finished reading "My Cross to Bear." How long had you been working on your autobiography?
I started it back in 1982. I figured someday I'd possibly be old and sitting on the front porch with a rocking chair and maybe I'd just pick up a few pages and thumb through them and kind of relive it.
What kind of feedback have you gotten on the book?
A lot of people said, "God, I don't know if I would have told that much." And I can only say it was part of the story. I had to put everything in.
You mentioned that your dreams have soundtracks.
Yeah, they do. It's like the soundtrack sets the whole mood of the dream. For every single emotion there is a sound, at least (that's) the way it happens with me and always has been.
Is it actual music or different eerie cosmic sounds?
I think it's both. Maybe cosmic sounds made with regular instruments.
When did you get your first guitar?
Sept. 10, 1960. Oh, man, it was a glorious day. It was a Silvertone, which was made by Sears and Roebuck. It was a finger bleeder, man. It was torturous.
You have a massive catalog of music. So what's your show in Sacramento going to sound like?
We'll play all of it. A little bit old. A little bit new. A little bit brand-new. Different stuff. It'll be interesting. Trust me.
Your Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe (and his Jasssz Band) is going to open the show. What does he bring to the party?
Ah, good jazz. He's got a great, great band. Plus I get to use his horn players. (laughs) That works out nicely.
What's the most recent thing you put on your iPod?
I found some pretty obscure Jimmy Smith (jazz organ) music.
Do you have anything on your bucket list? What's at the top?
Let me think for a minute (long pause). Fiji.
Knowing what you know about yourself now, do you think you would have made a good doctor?
(Laughs.) I think I would probably have dropped everything and gone to Woodstock.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento