Gregg Allman's 10 greatest blues performances of all time
Gregg Allman knows a thing or two about the blues. Whether it's with the legendary group that bears his surname, The Allman Brothers Band, or as a solo artist (he's just released one of his finest works yet, the T Bone Burnett-produced Low Country Blues), Allman has never strayed from that supernatural site musicians have come to call 'the crossroads.'
Currently gearing up for what has become a beloved spring tradition, The Allman Brothers Band's residency at New York City's Beacon Theatre (a 13-night stand that is sure to feature a host of special guests), Allman checked his iPod to run down his top 10 favorite blues performances of all time.
"There's so many great artists, songs and performances that have affected me throughout my life," he says. "These ones, though, I'd put them right at the top."
Ray Charles - The Danger Zone (1961)
“Ray Charles. What is there one can say about Ray? The arrangements he did, with the horn charts and everything... The man was an absolute genius.
"Everything he did was phenomenal, but The Danger Zone, man, something about that really says it all.”
Little Milton - Grits Ain't Groceries (1969)
“Little Milton Campbell...yeah. He had the strongest voice I’ve ever heard. I mean, the man had incredible control, power and emotion. In all of music, I would have to say that his singing voice just might be my favorite.”
Listen: Little Milton - Grits Ain't Groceries
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (1971)
“Everything I said about Little Milton applies to Marvin Gaye. What a beautiful voice. And his songwriting was just off the charts! A complete artist.”
Listen: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
Bobby "Blue" Bland - Driftin' Blues (1968)
“He has some nice cruisin’ songs, then he’s got some numbers that are almost like show tunes. I just like everything about this one. The arrangement, the singing - it’s all right there.”
BB King - Losing Faith In You (1968)
“This is one of those songs that’s almost impossible to find. It’s on an album called Blues On Top Of Blues. It’s definitely difficult to try to buy. The arrangement is amazing, and of course, BB’s voice is simply incredible.
"This was during his big band era, and I’ll tell you, the sound is almost the same that Ray Charles was going for at the time. What a song. This knocks me out.”
Sonny Boy Williamson - Nine Below Zero (circa 1954)
“That’s a cute little song. I just love it. Great harp playing, great voice… You put those two elements together, and that’s all you need.”
Listen: Sonny Boy Williamson - Nine Below Zero
Taj Mahal - You Don't Miss Your Water (1968)
“A lot of people have covered this song, but Taj Mahal did one hell of a rendition of it, probably the best I’ve ever heard. It’s a beautiful song.
"I think William Bell was the first to sing it back in the early ’60s. Nothing wrong with his, of course, but there’s something very special about the way Taj Mahal did it."
Listen: Taj Mahal - You Don't Miss Your Water
Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign (1967)
“The man with no neck. [laughs] His head was shaped like a bullet. God bless Albert King. He was a good friend of mine.
"I love real simple songs, the kinds of tunes that don’t have a lot of changes, yet they’re still capable of blowin’ you away. This is one of them. Albert takes this one and really makes it. The man was unbelievable.”
Listen: Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign
Muddy Waters - Gypsy Woman (1947)
“I play this one when I’m getting ready to go on stage every night. Muddy gets me in the mood every time. You really can’t go wrong with Muddy Waters, but if you want to hear something that’ll take you somewhere, this is the one. I can’t get enough of it.”
Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' For My Darling
“Oh yeah. This is a good boogie song - a great boogie song! It’s a simple blues tune, but boy, what it does to you is nothing simple at all.
"I got Muddy on my iPod. Muddy Waters, Marvin… You listen to these guys and you’re all ready to go play, as far as I’m concerned. A great performance by a great man.”