Mon., May 3, 2010 8:34pm (EDT)

Allman Brothers Museum Opens
By Josephine Bennett
media link
Updated: 4 years ago

MACON, Ga.  —  
"Fans pose by the gate at the Big House Museum in Macon."
"Fans pose by the gate at the Big House Museum in Macon."
The Allman Brothers Band has been making music for more than 40 years. Now they’ve returned to a place where much of that music began. It’s called The Big House.

The 18 room Tudor-style mansion in Macon is where the band lived communally with family and friends. Now it’s opened as a museum tracing the band’s history as the principal architects of southern rock.

From 1970 to 1972 Gregg Allman lived in the Big House.

“We had a lot of parties in here you know and, cause we’d all gather here. This was kind of our club house you know.”

But it wasn’t just a place for parties. It was a prolific time for the Allman Brothres Band music. The songs Please Call Home, Midnight Rider and Blue Sky were written here.

Drummer Butch Trucks recalls Dickey Betts sitting in the corner of the kitchen writing their biggest hit Ramblin’ Man.

“I was, had been here partying all night and I came walking by and he was working on this song and then he asked me what I thought about it. I said, well its a little country for us. He said, yeah that’s what I thought. He said well lets go to the studio and we’ll do a demo and send it to Merle Haggard. I said yeah that’s great. So we went to the studio to do a demo and the rest is history.”

Pieces of that history are now on display in this home turned museum. Greg Potter is its director.

“We’ve got the guitar that Gregg wrote Melissa on. We’ve got Butch’s original drum set that he used on the first two albums. There is just amazing…photographs. Just a lots of different stuff.”

Including the trunk from the famed Fillmore East album cover, costumes, albums and posters.

Most of the items were collected by the band’s former tour manager Kirk West. Three years ago he sold the home and its contents to museum developers.

The band came to Macon in 1969 from Florida after signing with the Macon-based label Capricorn Records. Potter says they broke ground not just with their blues inspired rock music but with their black drummer Jaimoe Johnson.

“Well it was one of the first integrated bands, and an integrated band in the south starting in the late 60’s and that was just basically unheard of back then.”

Johnson, Trucks and Allman are still making music together 41 years later but Butch Trucks says nothing compares to his time in the Big House.

“I did more living in that 2 ½ years than I have in all the rest of my life combined. We didn’t stop. I mean it was…There was no time for boredom. We were either playing or partying or both.”

But there was also tragedy. Band member Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in late 1971 and Berry Oakley in the same manner a year later. After that the band moved out of the Big House.

Gregg Allman says what remains is the music they created while living together.

“I think it was just bein’ in the right place at the right time and the right gathering of people.”

The gates to the museum sport the band’s iconic mushroom logo as well as the title of their 1975 album, “The Road Goes On Forever.” And with this new museum it just might.