login | Register

Remembering Berry Oakley

Posted: Nov 11, 2008

"Oakley and I were both young adults when we met, and we were both still searching for our style of playing. He had so much insight and vision. I was playing night clubs, and I was making what would be the equivalent now of about $3000 a week. Back then it was about $600 a week, which was real good money in the sixties. Oakley would come around and he's say "You gotta get out of these clubs, and do your original stuff!" I'd say, "But Oakley, we'll starve to death. I'm married, and I've got to pay rent." But he kept telling me we had to break out of it and kind of starve for a couple of years. I used to kid him, I'd say, "You're like my big brother, but you're younger than I am." (Laughs) He was the real visionary in the band. He and I got together, and we started doing about half cover stuff and half original stuff. The band was called The Blues Messengers. A guy from Jacksonville came down to this club we were playing at called Dino's in Tampa. It was a real big blues club. The guy had a club in Jacksonville that had all this plexiglass that lights came through, psychedelic lighting, an electric dance floor. Jacksonville didn't have anybody in that town that wasn't playing soul music. They were kind of behind the times. He came down and saw our band and said, "Man, I want to bring you guys to Jacksonville. But I've got to change the name of the band to The Second Coming." He thought Berry looked just like Jesus Christ. Oakley hated that! (Laughs) So we went to that club, and we were the only people in that great big city that had long hair and were playing that kind of music. So Oakley said, "We've got to get out and get our people together." I said, "Oakley, we don't have any people. He said, "Yeah we do, they just don't have anywhere to go." So we got out, and some of our hippie friends built us a stage on this lot that some people let us use. They had electricity on it. They had about twenty acres there, and they told us we could play there on Sunday afternoons. So we got one guy to build the stage and another guy to get the electric lines run, and we set up our stuff and just did free shows. And in about two months we had like 3,000 people coming there, and everybody's hair kept getting longer and longer. But Oakley was the visionary. Kind of the guy who could see how to get people together and make things work. And that's kind of what he brought to The Allman Brothers Band."

- Dickey Betts

On November 11, 1972, Berry Oakley was involved in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia with a bus, just three blocks from where Duane had his fatal accident the year before. Oakley said he was okay after the accident, declined medical treatment, and went back to The Big House. Just three hours later, he was taken to the hospital and died.

We tip our hats to the memory of one of the greatest Southern Rock bass players who ever lived. The Allman Brothers Band's own Berry Oakley.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.


(Thank you Getty!)

related tags


Wireless from AT&T


tennesseewaltz says...

Berry and Duane will live forever. Fillmore east is the best album ever made.

michaelbuffalo says...

"Rock and Roll Heaven" by The Rightious Brothers. Southern Rock has their own version by Charlie Daniels called "Reflections." And Reunion did "Life is a Rock But the Radio Rolled Me" which includes Bonnie Bramlett, among others.

copperhead says...

A singer did that song in the late 70s. Talking about Jimi, Janis and others.I can not remeber his name. Hi rebyll down in Baton Rouge for 10 days. Got any band friends playing down here? I would love to hear some good SR or blues.

rebyll says...

Okay.... I stand here before you and admit I am beginning to have senior moments.... I have read that quote in your book!!!! Maybe I need to re-read it. AGAIN!!! LOL

rebyll says...

Wow.... I had never seen that quote before. Thanks Bro.

copperhead says...

So many lost to the back roads and byways of Southern Music. If there is a rock and roll heaven . You know they have a hell of a band.

Please login or you can to leave a comment.

If you aren't registered, Register Now to start leaving comments.

Copyright 1998-2018 by Swampland Inc. All rights reserved.