Extraordinary questions are the impetus of exceptional answers.
Truth Be Told: "Behind the Set"
The Allman Brothers: Gregg Allman
I have interviewed the Allman Brothers numerous times over the years, both Gregg and Dickey Betts. Speaking only of Gregg, I have conducted several interviews with him in person and over the phone for broadcast. This story is one that I believe will amaze you as much as it did me.
I've established for you that I have had many conversations with Gregg. Allman Brothers fans are aware that Gregg's reputation does, indeed, precede him.
Of all the times I've chatted with Gregg, more often than not, he doesn't follow one's lead quite well. So on the occasion of the Allman Brothers 30th Anniversary together, I was asked to do an interview with him prior to the tour beginning. This interview would promote the sale of concert tickets through the spring and summer. I was reluctant at first, because I had a notion of how I wanted to present the interview and was suspect whether or not I could get Gregg to cooperate, knowing his past track record during my interviews. I suggested to his publicist that perhaps it would be best for someone else to conduct the interview. He disagreed, telling me that no one would do an interview like the way I would, especially one that is as paramount as this one… for the 30th Anniversary.
When I spoke of how I wished to handle it, he became excited and told me it was a great idea and that it would give the Allman Brothers more broadcast time and promotion that way. I explained my vision and we agreed, but could we get Gregg to make it through from beginning to end. That would be the most difficult part. He assured me he would get Gregg to cooperate and not to worry… yeah.
I articulated my blueprint as to how I wanted to execute the interview:
I'd write a number of questions in chronological order based on the 30-year history of the Allman Brothers. After taping the entire interview, I would broadcast a few questions and answers each day Monday through Friday and give away free tickets each of the five days. We would leave off the last remaining questions for a Sunday broadcast, which was to be the exact anniversary date the Allman Brothers played their first gig together. We would also give away a grand prize to meet the band at a New York City gig, and again when they played in Hartford. The manager was beside himself. One stipulation: Knowing Gregg as I did, if he didn't answer all of my questions, if he decided to abruptly end the dialogue without any summation, I would not broadcast any segments of the interview that had been completed. Again the manager assured me to perish the thought and that he would discuss everything with Gregg. All the pieces to the puzzle were in place. At least one would think.
Gregg rang me the day of the interview and his first words to me were, "Lich, I heard about what you want to do, it sounds great, I love the idea, I'm feeling good, I've got a new woman in my life, and we'll go right to the very end with no problems." I was thrilled.
The tape began to roll. Gregg was giving me answers like he hadn't given me since we did a face-to-face broadcast at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut a number of years before. We were moving along just fine. I clearly remember asking question #17 or 18 and there was a pregnant pause. The silence was deafening. As you can imagine in broadcasting, a few seconds with no sound can create great tension for the audience – as they hang waiting for the artist's next thought. And if so, the interviewer should never fill in the silence. Otherwise, no good comes from it. In Gregg's case, I knew what to expect.
After the empty seconds, Gregg said something to the effect of, "Well, Lich, that's about all the time I have… I've got another interview in a little while and I've got a few things I've got to take care of before that. Thanks for a great interview and I want everyone to know we'll be coming to town sometime during the summer and we'll see you then", and then he hung up. I sat there befuddled.
Truth be told, I turned around, placed the tape in my satchel, refused to hand it over to anyone, and never broadcast any elements of the interview. I still have it in my possession to this day.