Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father, Duane

Galadrielle Allman

Summertime Peruse

Spiegel & Grau, 400 pp., $28

Duane Allman, leader of Southern rock progenitors the Allman Brothers Band and a renowned studio musician, died in a motorcycle accident when the author of Please Be With Me, his daughter and only child, was 2 years old. What can she add to the story, especially in the light of numerous biographies written in the more than 40 years since Duane's passing? As it turns out, quite a lot actually. Galadrielle Allman gets to the heart of the innovative slide guitarist and his legacy by interviewing everyone who knew him who's still available and presents it in a way that's detailed and lively. Stressing that this process was as much about her need to connect with a parent she retains no memory of, Allman occasionally gets flowery and melodramatic, but she also gets ribald – as with the story about a roadie jailed and "tripping his balls off." The author digs deep, going for interviews with overlooked participants in Duane's life, like Bonnie Bramlett and John Paul Hammond. She also manages to reveal the mother/wife/girlfriend side of the Allman Brothers Band, a key component to the macho rock posture of the time and place.

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