Are you THIS Southern?

Are you THIS Southern?

Do you know these guys? If so, you’re plenty Southern. Or at least a sympathizer. This is a photo of Allman Brothers Band roadies. It was on the back cover of their Fillmore East album. The guy in front with his elbow on the drum case is Joe Dan Petty. Joe Dan played bass in a Dickie Betts band before the Allman Brothers and was almost the Allman Brothers bass player after Berry Oakley died in a motorcycle accident just three blocks from where Duane Allman had his fatal wreck the year before. Instead of Joe Dan, they went with Lamar Williams. In 1973, he co-founded Grinderswitch and toured with The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Wet Willie, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then came a lull due to problems with the label. Then disco came and knocked them down for good. I met Joe Dan in Macon around 1979 while I was on a summer break from West Virginia University. He lived next door. I’d come in late from partying and, if his light was on, I’d stop for joint and a beer. He had a couple of matched albino Dobermans he’d yell at if the beer made him mean (or maybe I was getting on his nerves). I was glad to have him as a friend while passing through town. From Macon I hitchhiked to a wedding in Rockford—on the other side of Chicago—then back through Pittsburgh and down into West Virginia. Lotta stories from that trip. (For instance, I slept in a cardboard box by the interstate near Bowling Green, Kentucky, after getting sprayed by a skunk.) But those tales are for another time. Anyway, I was sad to learn that Joe Dan died in a plane crash in 2000. He wouldn’t have remembered me but I’m remembering him.

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