The passing of Greg Allman this past weekend made me put on Eat a Peach and kick back as though I was fifteen years old and let the memories wash over me. The Allman Brothers music was made for being stoned and nobody was more stoned in the early 70’s than my brothers and his friends.
When my 3rd oldest brother moved out of the family house he rented a home in southern Glendale with two of his best friends, Vance Faulkner and Chris Clarke. Eventually, my 4th oldest brother would take refuge there.
The house had three constants. Everyone was always stoned. The house was filled with guests. The music of choice was the Allman Brothers or the Doors. You could get stoned there simply by opening the door and taking your first breath. The kids who stayed at the house were between 17 – 25 years old.
They all worked hard at labor intensive jobs. My two brothers and his two friends all worked at a wallpaper making company in Glendale. It might have been the same building that Golden Road Brewing is kicking up such a storm. If not, it was in the same vicinity. But at that time, the Glendale past the railroad tracks in South Eastern Glendale was all industrial. They put the paint on the wallpaper, heck they were probably stoned from the paint fumes before they ever got home. None of them went to college though all of them were smart enough to have. I’m not sure what role the pot played in that but these kids were getting high by the age of fifteen and never stopped.
This went on a few years until the house was busted. My brother and Vance fled the state. Chris Clarke took off for parts unknown. My other brother was not involved in the bust but left the house. The once packed house was now empty. The chords of Whipping Post from Fillmore East were now baked into the woodwork. Whoever rented it next probably wondered if they would ever get the smell of pot out of the house.
The bust caused the group to grow up a little. Vance came back and did his time at a minimum detention facility for six months. He would get out of jail and start a new life, form a softball team and while drugs and booze were always a part of his life, for a while he had things going for him. He would eventually die in Needles after being paralyzed in a car accident. That is another story, his life is worth a story. Vance was big man and a big presence in my life until he moved to Needles.
I never saw Chris Clarke again. Word was that he had died in Palmdale/Lancaster when he was driven over by a car while sleeping on a road. I don’t know if that was true, but I do know that when I knew Chris Clarke when he was eighteen, I never expected him to live past twenty-one.
My brothers survived the house and ended up having five great children between them. For a while, I didn’t think they would get out of that house and live the lives they ended up making for themselves.
They did me a great service though. I watched that house from afar, and while one part of me wanted to be part of the drug culture, to take some hits, curl up on the floor and groove to the Allman Brothers, another part of me said. “behold, these guys aren’t going anywhere, stay away stay away”.
And while I’d like to say my brothers cautioned me from this life that was not the case. They liked to get me stoned. In this case, I stayed away on my own because something else kept me on a different path.
For a long time, I stayed away from listening to the Allman Brothers. I kind of considered their music to go hand in hand with a lifestyle I wasn’t interested in, but eventually, as I got older I went back to those beautiful southern blues songs. They became my music of choice for long drives, for sitting on my swinging porch. For relaxing.
When I heard Greg Allman had died, for the first time in a long time, I really wanted to get stoned, lay down and let Alexa play me all the Allman Brothers she could muster from my catalog.
I just didn’t have any pot. I probably need to get some for these occasions.