Rest in peace, Gregg Allman.
I first got acquainted with music of The Allman Brothers Band as a first-semester freshman at Mary Washington College in 1990. My cultural illiteracy as an 18-year-old was embarrassing — especially where music was concerned. I’d arrived at the small, fairly conservative Virginia state school listening to … well, very little other than what I’d heard on the MTV countdown. (I started loving Richard Wagner as a high school senior — but that niche interest was rare for someone my age, so far as I was aware.) It was an ongoing issue when I was a college freshman that upperclassmen would roll their eyes or even occasionally hiss when I told them what music I was into.
Alumnus Steve Miller and his friends were the exception. They showed me far more patience at their parties in “The Tunnel” between Mason and Randolph Halls — they exposed me to tons of The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, The Steve Miller Band, and The Beatles. (No, the irony of a guy named Steve Miller coincidentally loving The Steve Miller Band was not lost on us.) Steve and his friends were each, in varying degrees, an amalgam of Obi-Wan and a far mellower version one of the guys from “Animal House” (1978).
The Allman Brothers were really my first extended exposure to Southern rock. (And, hey, you can’t get much more Southern than a band made up of guys named Berry Oakley or Butch Trucks.) I listened to them whenever there was a party at Steve’s, even after he started hosting his soirees out of his apartment on Sunken Road. Everyone there loved The Allman Brothers. I think “Ramblin’ Man” was probably the group’s favorite.
Today, “Midnight Rider” is by far and away my favorite Allman Brothers song. Curiously enough, though, for the life of me, I do not remember hearing that one in college. I actually started jamming to it after I heard Rob Zombie include it in the score for the opening montage of “The Devil’s Rejects” horror film in 2005.
Anyway … “The Tunnel” at “Mary Washington College” has apparently now been remodeled into the above-ground “The Link” at “The University of Mary Washington.”