When the Allman Brothers Band’s Road Manager Killed a Club Owner
How far would someone go for a band that had just been stiffed? It drove one man – Allman Brothers Band tour manager Twiggs Lyndon Jr. – to murder on April 29, 1970. He killed a club owner over $500.
The band, whose self-titled debut had come out the previous November, had just finished up two sets at Aliotta’s Lounge in Buffalo when bassist Berry Oakley went to settle up with the owner, Angelo Aliotta. The fee was $1,000, but Aliotta gave Oakley only $500.
According to the New York Daily News, Oakley returned to the hotel and told Lyndon. Incensed, Lyndon grabbed a 10-inch fishing knife and went to the club. Aliotta said that he wasn't paying the band for the first show because they started late. But, he said, he would give them the money if they played the next night.
A fight broke out, and Aliotta was stabbed and died on the scene. Lyndon was immediately arrested, held without bail and charged with first-degree murder. What should have been an open-and-shut case soon turned into a debate about being on the road with a rock band and its effects on one's psyche.
John Condon Jr., the group's lawyer, chose a defense of temporary insanity, arguing that working for the hard-partying Allmans literally drove Lyndon crazy. To prove his point, he called Oakley to the stand, and the following conversation took place:
“Did you take any dope in the last month?” Condon asked.
“Uh-huh,” Oakley said.
“In the last week?”
“Oh, yeah,” Oakley said.
“What about the last hour?”
“You bet,” Oakley replied.
Another tactic used by John Condon was to waive the right to a jury and let the judge, who could be more sympathetic, decide the case. It worked. Lyndon was declared not guilty by reason of insanity. He was transferred from jail, where he had spent the previous 18 months, to a psych ward, where he was released after six months.
Twiggs Lyndon died in 1979 while working for the Dixie Dregs. A regular skydiver, he attempted an 8,500-foot jump in Duanesburg, N.Y., but his parachute failed to open.