Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do I dare to eat a peach?

Legendary bandleader and guitarist Duane Allman, founder of the Allman Brothers Band and the guy who supplied those wailing slide guitar notes on Eric Clapton's "Layla," was tragically killed in a motorcycle wreck in October, 1971, so there's no telling how great he might have been in the years since, or how many other tremendous performances he had left to give.

But you know what else is interesting? He would not pose for a photograph!  After he reached a certain point of being recognized in public, he just figured, if people want to take a picture of me, they may, but he sure as shootin' wasn't gonna stand there grinning like a fool while shutterbugs snapped away.

Duane could play guitar like nobody's business, and he had quite a business playing for others, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs and B.B. King among them.  He was a simple, humble Southern guy who liked to play his guitars, fish, ride his motorcycle and be left alone.  And even though he was around at the time of the tumultuous social upheaval in this country, he was not out there on anyone's front line of revolution.  Asked about his philosophy, Duane, whose father was a career Army sergeant killed by a hitchhiker, said, "There ain't no revolution, only evolution, but every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace."   

And the surviving members of the band went on to call the album released shortly after his death "Eat A Peach."

But I bring this all up because I would not like to be in show business and have to stand around posing for photographs every time I showed up for the Oscars® or one of Kelsey Grammer's frequent weddings or a supermarket opening.  Yet, it's all you can see in the papers and on line: the stars in their finery, flashing the piano-keyboard grin and posing like nuts.  And the cameras and the flashes go crazy.  And people are calling their names like mad.

And the other night, Peggy wanted to see the red-carpet arrivals at the Grammys, where these days, one is rewarded for selling lots of music by being subjected to an interview with Ryan Seacrest.  It was sad because as he relentlessly grilled luminaries such as P. Diddly, or whatever he calls himself this week, and Justin Bieber, we saw Cyndi Lauper walk by, without a soul paying her any attention.  In her heyday, they would have pursued her for two blocks to find out which colors she used in her hair, and now her heyday is over, and no one even says "hey." 
Seacrest always asks, "Who are you wearing?" and I would have to answer this way: "That should be 'whom' are you wearing, and it's Eddie Bauer."  And then he would turn and greet the arrival of Steve Lawrence.

Ring finger, left hand: Coricidin bottle
And one last thing about Duane Allman, in case you think that having a cold is always the worst thing that could happen.  In 1968, Duane had a cold, and his brother Gregg brought him a bottle of Coricidin pills.  You remember those, those red pills that did nothing for your cold but everyone took them anyway?  Duane found the best use for Coricidin in the glass bottle of yesteryear.  He emptied out the pills, stuck the bottle on his finger, and used it to make those beautiful slide guitar sounds.  Listen to him play here.  Those notes that sound like teardrops falling?  That's the best picture of Duane there is!

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