Late rocker Gregg Allman had ties to Tampa Bay area

FILE - This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – The death of Gregg Allman is a huge loss for the music world. He was a legendary rocker and co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band. He also had close ties to the Tampa Bay area.

Lately, Berry Oakley Jr. has been thinking back on happy memories. If you’re an Allman Brothers fan, that name may ring a bell. His dad was Berry Oakley, the bassist for the Allman Brothers Band. While Berry Jr. was still a teenager, Gregg Allman asked him to go on tour with the band.

“Oh, it scared the heck out of me,” Oakley recalled.

While Oakley was understandably nervous, Gregg Allman considered him like family.

“He had his issues and his troubles, but he was really a sweet guy. A lot of people don’t know, he really was a sweet guy,” said Oakley.

Allman was the front man and a songwriter for the band, which revolutionized southern rock. He even wrote some songs while living on Anna Maria Island. He understood the importance of the work he was doing.

“It was hard for him to get on stage, he had such a fright about it, but I think personally it’s because he deep down was such a nice guy and so concerned with everyone and everything and everyone around him,” said Oakley.

Over the years, Allman frequented the Tampa Bay area. He had many friends here and would rehearse for upcoming shows or perform in local venues, big and small. Oakley was saddened by Allman’s passing, but feels he should be remembered for standing out among the crowd.

“Everyone saw this blond haired white kid singing the blues and it’s just, a lot of people were put off by it in the beginning, but they stuck to their guns,” said Oakley.

Oakley said Gregg Allman cared about his family, his friends and making good music while ignoring the naysayers and he feels that should be a lesson to everyone to stay true to yourself.

“I feel bad, but at the same time I feel happy for [Allman], because he can rest now. He’s not hurting, and not only that, that’s one heck of a jam he’s got up there,” said Oakley with a smile.

Gregg Allman will be buried in Macon, Georgia, alongside his brother Duane.

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