The author tries to connect with the famous father she never knew in an account that is most illuminating when she’s telling her story and that of her mother.
When Duane Allman (1946–1971) died in a motorcycle accident, “he was twenty-four years old and I was two,” writes the author. “We never had the chance to know each other.” In fact, the virtuosic guitarist and founder of the Allman Brothers Band had already separated from the author’s mother, whom he had never legally wed, and was with another woman who initially claimed to be his common-law widow. The vast majority of this narrative covers decades when the author wasn’t even alive, which doesn’t prevent her from re-creating situations and dialogue and even asserting what her father was thinking long before he was her father. She had help, of course—access to her mother and other family, friends and members of the band, as well as interviews with those whose recordings Allman’s guitar had graced (Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Bramlett, John Hammond and others). Her uncle Gregg, who has written his own best-selling musical memoir, was also generous in his memories, though, as the author admits, “I was in my thirties before I started reaching out to him.” And there are dozens of letters, from her father to her mother and others. “I dreaded pursuing this story as a reporter would, by asking uncomfortable questions and following every lead,” writes the daughter whose bond with her father runs deep and whose love is abiding but who had to face some uncomfortable truths about “his arrogance and dark moods….Duane could be so cold and crass,” as a man who succumbed to drugs, groupies, and other temptations of the road and frequently risked death before his accident killed him at his musical peak.
This is more of a love letter than “Daddy Dearest” but also more about a flawed human being than about a band that has persevered for decades after its founder’s death.