How Gregg Allman’s Sons Forged Their Own Musical Paths
Devon Allman, a child of Gregg’s marriage to Shelley Kay Winters, co-founded the blues-rock band Royal Southern Brotherhood with New Orleans R&B legend Cyril Neville. Elijah Blue Allman, whose mom is Cher, started his own metal band Deadsy back in 1995. Michael Sean Allman, whose mother is Mary Lynn Green, has also pursued a music career.
Both Devon and Elijah Blue struggled with substance abuse, like their father. Since neither marriage lasted long, however, both kids actually grew up estranged from their famous dad – though that changed toward the end of his legendary life.
“It’s not that it’s been bad, just been very absentee,” Elijah Blue Allman told the Daily Mail back in 2014. “I’ve forgiven him for that. I’ve seen my dad a lot more in the last year then I have in a long time. That was something that was absent when I was growing up and it’s important to mend fences now in our relationship.”
Gregg Allman’s other children are Delilah Island Allman, from his marriage to Julie Bindas; and Layla Brooklyn Allman, from a relationship with Shelby Blackburn. He died on Saturday after years of health issues.
Long before Elijah began performing under the names Academia and Phillips Exeter Blue I, he was already well versed in the world of music. He was given his first guitar by Kiss star Gene Simmons, and had already been out on tour with Cher as a teen. Later, he made guest appearances with his mother on a cover of “Crimson and Clover” and on Coal Chamber‘s Chamber Music album, both in 1999. Deadsy grew out of a series of loose sessions with Alec Puro and Renn Hawkey that produced a demo for the original song “Dear” and a cover of Pavement‘s “Texas Never Whispers.”
Deadsy were signed to Dreamworks Records, Elektra and Sire, worked with members of Korn and Limp Bizkit and appeared on the 2001 Family Values Tour before going on hiatus in 2007. Elijah announced solo work, but ended up largely focusing on art. More recently, there have been hints of a return to work with Deadsy.
Elijah married Mariengela King in 2010; she’s in a German pop band signed to her husband’s music label.
Listen to Devon Allman Join an All-Star Cast on ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’
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Devon Allman left Royal Southern Brotherhood in 2014, but not before the group (which also featured Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton) created a 2012 self-titled debut that went to No. 5 on the Billboard blues chart. Another famous son later joined the band – Tyrone Vaughan, whose dad is Jimmie Vaughan and uncle is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Devon’s final show was in April 2014 at the Wanee Festival in Live Oak, Fla.
Devon has released two albums and toured extensively with Honeytribe, contributed his own version of Gregg Allman’s signature song “Midnight Rider” for a 2007 compilation titled A Song for My Father, and led his own solo bands, as well. He’s said he did not meet Gregg Allman until he was in his teens, after his parents divorced when Devon Allman was an infant. They apparently hit it off, however: Devon later sat in with his dad several times; Allman Brothers Band favorites like “Midnight Rider” have remained a staple of his sets, too.
Still, Devon Allman says that finding his own way into music helped him create a unique sound – far away from the expectations that typically surround the offspring of rock royalty. “I don’t really pay attention to it; if I did it would take me off my game,” Devon told About in 2010. “I don’t keep track of what people expect. I’m my own guy doing my own music.”
Michael Allman released his debut album Hard Labor Creek in 2009, and has also toured with a set partially drawn from his father’s career. He said that he found out about Gregg Allman’s death after a Saturday flight that passed over his dad’s hometown of Savannah on the way to a performance in Northampton, Mass.
“The whole nation is mourning; everybody is missing my old man,” Michael later added. “I don’t know what to say; I know know what I feel. I don’t know what to do, but I do know the show much go on.”
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