The Curse That Haunted The Allman Brothers Band

In the history of rock music, there have been many ill-fated incidents that fall upon artists. For instance, the age of 27 became a curse for numerous rock stars, including Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. After the mysterious deaths of artists at 27, fans now stop and think when a musician passes away at the same age. There are also some interesting urban myths about the 27 club, one of them being the white lighter curse.

Besides, some bands are known to be haunted by a run of bad luck. One of them is Def Leppard, as they went through tragic events such as addictions, horrible accidents, divorces, and the unexpected death of their bandmate. Their successful album ‘Hysteria’ marked the beginning of this curse. While Def Leppard was working on the album, Rick Allen crashed his car and lost his arm, producer Mutt Lange had a car accident, and Joe Elliott was diagnosed with mumps — as if some evil spirit tried to prevent them from releasing the hit record.

In Lynyrd Skynyrd’s case, the thing that led to a chain of tragic events was believed to be the ‘Crossroads Curse.’ According to urban legend, covering Robert Johnson’s song ‘Crossroads’ brought bad luck to musicians. After Lynyrd Skynyrd covered this song, their original drummer Robert Burns Jr. died in a car crash, and the horrific plane crash happened just one year after their cover.

Looking through the music career of the Allman Brothers Band, there is something that stands out — many of their bandmates passed away one by one. In 1971, just two years after the band’s formation, Duane Allman tragically died in a motorcycle accident while driving his motorcycle at high speed. A year later, Berry Oakley also had a motorcycle accident just three blocks from where Duane died. Sadly, he shared the same fate with Duane.

Following Oakley’s passing, Lamar Williams joined the Allman Brothers Band as his replacement. After a successful career with the band, Williams formed Sea Level with his Allmans bandmates Johanson and Leavell. After he left Sea Level, the bassist found out he had lung cancer and died less than two years later. Between 1979 and 1982, Dan Toler worked as the band’s guitarist, appearing on three of their albums. Unfortunately, he lost the battle against ALS and died in 2013.

In 1989, Allen Woody joined the act and worked for eight years with them. After several other ventures, Woody died from a heroin overdose in 2000. Allman Brothers’ original members, Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman, also had the same fate as the others — Butch died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2017, while Gregg passed away from liver cancer the same year. Looking through all those deaths that came one after another, it’s safe to say that there was a curse surrounding the Allmans.

Despite the tragedy surrounding the Allmans, the band continued to make music and rise in prominence throughout the years. They decided to move on shortly after Duane’s passing and returned to the road, while Berry Oakley started using substances to cope with his death. Following Oakley’s death, the remaining members still wanted to continue. Surprisingly, they started to play at larger venues and receive more profit even without Duane and Berry. Apparently, Gregg Allman had an explanation for this.

Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1973, Gregg Allman said the following:

“The real question is not why we’re so popular. I try not to think about that too much. The question is, what made the Allman Brothers keep on going. I’ve had guys come up to me and say, ‘Man, it just doesn’t seem like losing those two fine cats affected you people at all.’

Why? Because I still have my wits about me? Because I can still play? Well, that’s the key right there. We’d all have turned into f*cking vegetables if we hadn’t been able to get out there and play. That’s when the success was, Jack. Success was being able to keep your brain inside your head.”

So, it looks like Gregg Allman thought they should’ve moved on instead of crawling into their shells and grieving because that’s what they needed to do to survive. He believed they would turn into vegetables if they didn’t continue making music. After the death curse also took Gregg’s life in 2017, the five surviving members of the Allman Brothers Band celebrated the band’s 50th anniversary with a tribute concert as ‘the Brothers.’ However, it remains unknown whether they agreed with Gregg on his decision to continue as a band.