Thursday, March 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Gregg Allman "My Cross to Bear" (Guest Post)

My Cross to Bear
- Gregg Allman -

Michelle Wilson returns 
with her first "guest" 
post of 2014. Michelle 
is an avid reader and 
music fan. Hence, she 
was psyched to dive into 
this riveting tell-all.

Gregg Allman, the iconic, multi-Grammy winning singer and co-founding member of the Allman Brothers Band along with his brother, Duane, has led quite the colorful life.  In 2012, HarperCollins published his story, written in collaboration with music industry writer, Alan Light. Through Allman’s retelling, he offers an inside track of the evolution of the band, including an ever-present addiction to drugs and alcohol.

My Cross to Bear is the story of a man who has survived drug addiction, hepatitis C, a liver transplant and the loss of many beloved friends and family members. But through it all, there always was the music. Raised in the South by a single mother, the murder of his father at a young age changed the landscape of the brothers’ lives forever. Gregg was an exceptional student, but music became his chosen path. If his father had survived, Gregg Allman may very well have become a doctor or dentist, and there may have been no Allman Brothers Band.

Written from Allman’s perspective in a simple, straightforward, no-holds-barred narrative, this book paints a portrait of a lost, lonely soul who never quite recovered from the loss of his beloved brother at such a tender age. Allman spent the majority of his life steeped in drug addiction and alcoholism, with scores of women interwoven through the mix. Six wives and five children later, Allman vicariously guides the reader through the ups and downs of his sordid and sometimes heartbreaking life. The book is peppered with personal photos that capture the essence of the Allman world. At times brutally honest, Allman vividly depicts the unglamorous life of a junkie, including his non-relationships with his children until years later. Clean and sober since the ‘90s, Allman reflects on the development and destruction of the Brothers, including the drugs, the in-fighting and the deaths.

As a fan I connected immediately with the story, and I felt as if I were living it right along with Allman. It took years of unsuccessful rehab stints before he finally beat his addictions, but when he did, it was a physical and spiritual rebirth for him. His belief is that his story has encouraged countless others to overcome their dependencies, and he hopes that it will continue to do so. Whether you're a diehard ABB / GA fan or just the casual admirer, this book is a must-read.

-Michelle Wilson
(March 2014)

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  1. I have read this book twice, in the middle of my third time. I love it. The fact that he survived all the troubles in his life speaks volumes to how strong a person he is. His music has been a constant in my life (I am 3 years younger than he is) and will be until they put me in the ground.
    He is still singing and playing as well as ever. I will miss ABB, when they stop touring, but he has such huge back catalog, and will still tour with his solo band, I will survive.
    I would recommend this book to anyone with even just a passing interest in him and his music. What to do and not do to live a life.

  2. Roseanne,

    Thanks for reading my review and offering your insights. GA's book is well worth a read and re-read, and he offers a great life lesson for everyone. His musical legacy will live on long after him, thank goodness.