Allman Brothers – It’s Not My Cross To Bear

In 1969 Duane Allman hand-picked the members he wanted in his band. The first member he picked was drummer Johnny Lee Johnson…better known as Jaimoe or Jai Johanny Johanson. He then looked at a band called “The 2nd Coming” and he got members guitarist Dickey Betts and bassist Berry Oakley out of that band and continued. He also picked another drummer named Butch Trucks out of the band The 31st of February.

Duane wanted the best band possible. People were confused that he wanted two drummers and a guitar player who could play almost better than him. He didn’t care about that as much at all…as long as it sounded good. Dickey Betts was not the easiest person to get along with but he respected Duane so much that they never had any problems. They spurred each other live to go further.

They needed a singer and Duane automatically thought of this brother Gregg. Gregg was living in LA at this point with Jackson Browne sharing an apartment. He told Gregg to come to Macon Georgia with this band. Gregg came armed with songs and walked into the door. He heard the band and didn’t know if he was good enough to do it. The big brother Duane jumped on Gregg and told him not to embarrass him and get behind the keyboards and do his thing. Gregg as always listened to Duane and of course, he fit perfectly. Duane knew exactly what he was doing.

On a side note…the band had a keyboard player named Reese Wynans. Reese knew his stint with the band was done with Gregg joining. They already had two guitarists and two drummers…they didn’t need another keyboard player with Gregg joining. Duane helped him get some studio work and hooked him up with other musicians. Reese’s career was only starting. Later on, Reese joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1985, playing keyboards on Soul to Soul and In Step. He performed live with the group until Stevie’s death in 1990.

Allman Brothers - It's Not My Cross To Bear B

He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992, Reese has played keyboards for a number of country artists including Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and Hank Williams Jr. He has also played for blues artists Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Colin James, Ana Popovic, Dudley Taft, Eli Cook, and Los Lonely Boys. I personally met Reese at my guitar tech’s business… a great guy. 

The Allman Brothers toured relentlessly through 1969-1971 playing at clubs and also doing free shows in the park in what town they were at…the same thing that The Grateful Dead did also. Money wasn’t the thing…they built a grass roots following and they were probably more popular in New York than anywhere else.

This song was on their debut album The Allman Brothers Band released in 1969. The album was hailed by critics but it didn’t sell but 35,000 copies at the time. When you look at the album now…it’s full of songs that would be their bedrock for years. Whipping Post, Dreams, and Trouble No More to name but a few.

Gregg Allman was the main songwriter in the band at first. Dicky Betts would soon start writing more around the second album. Allman wrote this about a girlfriend and wrote a song called Blackhearted Woman about that same girlfriend. They recorded the album in two weeks total…played it and mixed it.

They would release their second album the following year. That album did a little better but it still didn’t take off despite having many songs (Midnight Rider, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and more) that would make them famous later. It was in 1971 when they released At Fillmore East that all the years of touring paid off. It was a massive hit peaking at #13 and they were set up for a great career. Up until then, the record company had been advancing them money since 1969 and that album paid everything off. They finally had money coming in and the ability to get what they wanted.

Then on October 29, 1971, Duane Allman was killed on a motorcycle in Macon Georgia. They thought about breaking up but they stayed together and had a huge career with albums Eat A Peach (which Duane is on a few tracks) and the massive Brothers and Sisters. Around a year later…their bassist Berry Oakley died on a motorcycle within a few blocks of where Duane crashed.

When punk came in the late seventies they struggled because no one wanted blues jams anymore even if the musicianship was top notch and it was. That is something about the punk and New Wave movement I didn’t like. Some bands like this who were musically superior got swept away for a while.

Classic radio started to get popular and all of these bands that were ignored during punk and new wave were sought after again. In the late eighties, Gregg had a huge hit with I’m No Angel and the band reformed and played until Oct. 28, 2014 when they officially retired as a band.

I truly think they had more talent in that band than most of their peers. I have to add that I think Gregg could be the best white blues singer of his era.

It’s Not My Cross To Bear

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I have not come, yeah
To testify
About our bad, bad misfortune
And I ain’t here a wond’rin’ why
But I’ll live on and I’ll be strong
‘Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear

I sat down and wrote you a long letter
It was just the other day
Said, sure as the sunrise, baby
Tomorrow I’ll be up and on my way
But I’ll live on
And I’ll be strong
‘Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear
Oh no

Oh, but I’ll live on and I’ll be strong
‘Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear
Yes now baby

But in the end, baby
Long towards the end of your road
Don’t reach out for me, babe
‘Cause I’m not gonna carry your load
But I’ll live on and I’ll be strong
‘Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear
Yeah, yeah
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

29 thoughts on “Allman Brothers – It’s Not My Cross To Bear”

  1. Ah, the Allmans, I approve of this message!😆

    The Allman Brothers were a late discovery for me, which from today’s perspective is somewhat hard to believe.

    I still remember a colleague at my first job in the U.S. in 1997, who told me he was going to see them at The Beacon Theater in NYC, raving about them. At that time, I only knew “Ramblin’ Man” – I guess that’s what I thought of him at bit!😆

    It was only in the summer of 2014 during their very last tour that I caught them at a great outdoor venue in NJ, my first and only ABB show – so good!

    Just a few months thereafter, they had their final curtain at the Beacon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so jealous Christian… I didn’t get into them either until later. I knew a lot of their stuff like Blue Sky and the radio hits but started to learn about them more in the past 10-15 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Christian, the only thing I heard by them until well into the ’80s was ‘Ramblin Man’ , a song I always liked. Obviously there was a lot more to them than that! This one doesn’t quite do it for me although well-played…but I can certainly see how someone could go from them to Stevie Ray Vaughn without missing a beat.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, and it is good as that goes but to me maybe it’s like you with synth-based new wave, just seldom grabs me for some reason. But, it probably would be really good seen live. I have enjoyed a couple of straight-up blues shows I went to.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Don’t get me wrong… I would not want a night full of these but one here and there is fine framed with their other songs like Blue Sky and Melissa.


  3. I think the strangest Allman Brothers story is Greg and Cher. Cher filed for divorce nine days after they tied the knot, but they stuck it out for three more years and managed to produce an album that no one liked, a child, and they were one of the hottest couples of the ‘70s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No one in the band liked them being together either…it separated them a bit…the band that is. His drug problems caused the breakup with Cher.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy to learn more about their origin story. Duane has that sensitivity in his playing that I love. You’re right, Gregg has a helluva voice for the blues. Wonderful lush production. The lyrics go so well with the music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gregg was an excellent songwriter… hard to believe he roomed with Jackson Browne…totally opposite but Gregg said that Browne taught him a lot about songwriting. Gregg sounds like he is an old man here…he was around 25 or so.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These boy’s like to jam which is probably the understatement of the last 100 years! lol… Max, check out my comment I left at Dave’s place in regards to his Sting post from today…it should give u a chuckle

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Probably doesn’t because they weren’t goign by the Allman Brothers at that time. When I tell people I met a Beatle…which I did…Pete Best…they are dissappointed but Pete was a Beatle….and the first ex-Beatle in fact. No…strike that…Stuart Sutcliffe would have been the first ex.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for posting. I became a fan when I heard Brothers and Sisters, which has great musicianship and songwriting. There really isn’t a bad track on it, and I still enjoy listening to it today. I always felt that the tragic death of Duane seemed to give Gregg and Dickey Betts the space to stamp more of their own personality on the band’s direction and sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like that album….Wasted Words I like a lot as well.
      It gave them different directions to go….that is for sure. Where they missed Duane a lot was the chemistry between them all. He was the one person who could handle Dickey…

      Liked by 1 person

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