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VINE VOICEon January 22, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I first read that Galadrielle Allman was going to write a biography of her father Duane I was underwhelmed. What could she add since she was two when he died? The answer-quite a lot. This is essential reading if you are an Allman Brothers fan and if you aren't its still a great read as a story of a young woman trying to figure out what it means to be the daughter of a legend she didn't know.

Ms. Allman writes beautiful prose. She has had access to stories that others wouldn't have simply because friends of her father want her to understand him. This is the first book about Duane that has put him into the context of his larger family. We hear Mama A's story, the story of his father's death. Much of the story is told through the eyes of her mother whose story is set to run parallel to her fathers.

All in all, a great read, the best of the many books about Duane Allman and/or the Allman Brothers Band
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VINE VOICEon January 26, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The title of Galadrielle Allman's biography of her father, Duane Allman, is taken from Scott Boyer's song "Please Be With Me," which was recorded by the group Cowboy, with Duane Allman providing the slide guitar accompaniment, is so appropriate for this book of remembrances that chronicle the mostly ups, and a few downs, of the genius of Duane Allman. For anyone who has ever heard the silky tones of what his slide guitar sounds like, you soon begin to realize that at some point in his life, the gods of music touched Duane's heart and fingers, and they freed musical tones to be channeled through to a guitar for the rest of the world to hear and be in awe.

This is an extraordinary book, and one immediately recognizes it will be one as Galadrielle Allman begins it with these first sentences: "My father is killed in the first paragraph of every article ever written about him. His life story is told backwards, always beginning at the end: in the road, his motorcycle down, his body broken. People linger over the wreckage as if it says something meaningful about his life."

Galadrielle was two years old when her father died, and while one may ask, how can a two year old write a biography about someone she could not have possibly remembered much about, you soon realize she does have her memories, and more importantly, she has chronicled her father's life from others remembrances to give an almost "no holes barred" recount of her father's life. As you read her book, she recounts circumstances in Duane's life that went into making him the musical artist he was, whether it be how he took time to visit and write an injured friend or how attending a military prep helped in his developing as a band leader.

The book details the shock Galadrielle feels when she learns she is not Duane's only child, a secret she learns from someone who was writing a book about the band. While Galadrielle's words detail the hurt she felt at first when she first learns of her half-sister, she, also, expresses a sadness for her after she learns her half-sister was born deaf because her mother contracted rubella during her pregnancy, as she writes, referring to the memories she has of her father versus those her half-sister never had, "Stranger still, all I have of him, which never felt like enough to satisfy my need for him--the stories I have gathered, the relationships with our extended family, and even my name--suddenly feels like a great wealth of riches that she does not share, and I feel ashamed of that. Most of all, I am wounded by the thought that she cannot hear his music."

As one reads through PLEASE BE WITH ME, one gets a true feeling of what it is like developing a band, and just how difficult it was. There is very little of Duane's life that isn't documented in this book: from the birth of Galadrielle to her parents break-up, from Duane's lifting spirit, to sometimes dark moods. With regards to the Duane's collaboration with other artists, such as Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, Eric Clapton, et. al., she recounts the how those came about, and how that collaboration made their music better.

If there is a weakness in this book, it is that the stories are just that, and at times the stories seem to run together, but for the most part, the book, when Galadrielle is writing strictly from her feelings, you feel a certain poetry expressed in her sentences, for example, her description of Macon, Georgia, is, "Macon is beautiful in the spring, white magnolia blossoms hanging heavily in the trees, fallen pink cherry petals swirling on the cobblestone streets, and new grass growing in so green it hurts to look right at it." Having been raised in the South, I immediately recognize her description, having seen it in so many Southern cities.

I began this book by referring to the song, "Please Be with Me," that was written by Scott Boyer and sung by the group Cowboy. If you ever wondered just what it was about Duane Allman's playing that added to a song, do a search on YouTube, first of "please be with me duane allman," and then of "please be with me eric clapton," and note the differences in the way the music was played. This is not a knock on Eric Clapton, for I view him as one of the greatest guitarists there ever was, but a comparison of the two song reveals the gifts Duane Allman brought to the songs he played on. Also, speaking of Eric Clapton, if you ever get a chance, listen to the jams that Eric Clapton and Duane Allman on the extended version of the album "Layla and other Assorted Love Songs" by Derek and the Dominos. Those recordings will show you how two great guitarists can feed off of each other.

During this past year, the documentary "Muscle Shoals" was released, and this book provides wonderful stories about the recording sessions Duane had at FAME Studios In Muscle Shoals and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield. Being a resident of the Shoals area, I knew some of these stories, and I am glad to read of other stories I hadn't heard before. Which brings me to two personal remembrances of Duane Allman. The first being the only time I ever heard the Allman Brothers play live.

At the time, I was attending school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, UAB, and I was on the Entertainment Committee at the school. It seemed there was a promoter that the Allman Brothers owed a concert, but he couldn't find a place to stage it, and he proposed having the Entertainment Committee sponsor it. This was in 1970, just before "Idlewild South," a name for a cabin they used back then. The Entertainment Committee rented the Oporto National Guard Armory near Eastwood Mall in Birmingham, and we were treated to three-and-a-half hours of great music as they played all of the tunes from their first album, "The Allman Brothers," plus all of their upcoming album, "Idlewild South." The band was on a stage elevated five or so feet off of the concrete floor of the armory, and the band, with its two drummers, two lead guitarists, bass player and Greg Allman's massive B3 Hammond and amplifiers, took-up a third of the back wall. The place was packed, with only the local Fire Marshall stopping the people wanting to pay their $7.00 to get in to hear them. The band played so tight, yet they, also, seemed to be jamming at times, that before we knew it, it was 11:30, and the Fire Marshall literally turned on the house lights and made everyone start leaving, or I think, we'd have been there for a couple of more hours, as the band seemed to be feeding off of the positive energy of the crowd.

My second remembrance isn't really a remembrance, rather it was an experience I had while taking a tour of the Hard Rock Cafe's Vault in London, England. My wife and I are very proud of the musical heritage of "The Shoals," as most everyone calls the area in which we live, and as we went through the tour, we started telling stories about some of the artists who had recorded at the old Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on 3614 Jackson Highway, Duane, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc. It wasn't long before we had as many folks listening to us talk as the tour guide had. So, he walks up to me carry this Fender Strat, and says to me, "Here, this is the Strat Duane Allman played on for the tune "Layla" with Derrick and the Dominos. It's number 19, you play it while I give the tour," and with that, I held this really sweet instrument whose strings played so perfectly up and down the fret board. It was an experience I will never forget.

This book isn't for everyone, I know, but for those who love Duane Allman's music, who want to know what the Allman Brothers Band went through in their development, or even a large part of what the music scene was like during the late 1960's and early 1970's, Galadrielle Allman's PLEASE BE WITH ME: A SONG FOR MY FATHER, DUANE ALLMAN will be a book you will enjoy reading.

NOTE: This review was based upon an advanced copy I received through Amazon's Vine Program. It is anticipated that the book will be available for purchase in early March 2014. There could be some changes in the book when it is finally published, but, if there are, it is expected that those will probably be minor. I was asked how I received an advance copy, and I replied:

As a member of Amazon's "Vine Program," Vine reviewers receive an E-mail of products Amazon thinks we would like to review. Usually, the items they notify us are of items similar to what we have shown an interest in or have reviewed in the past. A week after we receive the first E-mail, we receive a second one listing all the products people in the program have not chosen. Most of the books I have reviewed have just been published or are on the verge of being published. Ms. Allman's biography of her father, Duane, was offered to Vine members almost two months before it is being published. It is a "pre-published proof," which means it may still be edited some, but for the most part, only minor grammatical corrections will be made to it before it is published.
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on March 10, 2014
When it comes to the Allman Brothers, I'm as hard core as it gets. I thought I'd picked up all the ephemera about Duane Allman that love and memory of those who knew him would let out. Then Galadrielle does this. Her prose is lyrical, beautiful, moving. Duane comes across as very human. Then she fills in the gaps. Mama A, Donna, Big Linda, Candy--all the names who were paper dolls in other books. It's the story of a time, of a special place, of change that I lived through. But this book was not written for me, the Allman Brothers fan. It's Galadrielle's personal history and we are privileged to get to share it. She is her father's daughter and her mother's, too.
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VINE VOICEon January 29, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a fan of the band and the guitarist, this popped out from the choices available. I knew next to nothing about Duane Allman, a truly gifted and unique guitarist who died far too young, even by rock tragedy standards. In retrospect, it's amazing he made such a name for himself in such a short time. I was eager to learn about a man whose time in the spotlight was shorter than his peer Jimi Hendrix, but arguably no less influential and lasting.

While there have been other biographies of this storied artist, there might be none that possess such an aching personal motive. In fact, I've yet to read a biography of anyone written from this perspective. There isn't a hint of self-aggrandizement, no indication that Galadrielle took this on to capitalize on her famous ancestry, and no sense that she has any agenda beyond transforming this rock phantom into flesh and blood man. It's a unique perspective for a biography and as a first time writer; Ms. Allman demonstrates a talent that has a lot of potential.

For a first time author, she occasionally tries a bit too hard by peppering her story with descriptive passages that seem overstuffed with metaphors and excess, but nonetheless, there is a lyrical quality to her writing. It is a lovely mix of soulful diary-like musings coupled with a master storyteller's gift for keeping the audience riveted. Additionally, it's perhaps a bit long, but that seems understandable when you consider just how ravenous she was for every morsel available involving her dad.

Like most biographies, you know the ending, so what make the trip worthwhile are the details, anecdotes, and revelations of the person behind the myth. One particular recollection sits with me still. During the Atlanta Pop Festival in July, 1970, Duane Allman and Jimi Hendrix (both acts were on the bill) were supposed to meet. Unfortunately, Duane was exhausted after his set and passed out, sleeping through Jimi's later performance. One wonders what those two on the same stage might've done together. Given that Jimi died a few months later, and Duane not much longer after that, it's downright eerie that the world was never given the chance to have these two guitarists occupy the same stage at the time. Maybe we're just not supposed to have it that good...

Anyway, Ms. Allman does a fine job couching the respectful admiration and palpable awe for Duane Allman's legacy in her plaintive and sincere sojourn to re-create the famed stranger and thus, peel back the layers to reveal her dad. I'm glad she shared this engaging and reaffirming tale of the power and pull of music, family, and self-discovery. Definitely recommended.
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VINE VOICEon February 22, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As one of countless fledgling teenage guitar players who cut their improvising teeth playing along with `the Fillmore album' in the 70's, I have to say that readers looking for musical revelations may be a little disappointed: Galadrielle speaks from the heart about her father and his band's music but she's not a musician and doesn't offer any new insights regarding Duane's gear, technique, practice habits, influences, etc.

But that's not what I felt this book was about - rather, `Please Be With Me' is an extremely well-written and movingly told account that weaves two main threads: 1) the author's motivations and search to get beneath the public surface and legacy of a father she never really knew. 2) To provide what she labels `a women's perspective ` on being part of (while at the same time increasingly apart from) the rapidly expanding world of the ascendant Allman Brothers Band, as told through the remembrances of those who knew Duane best during his short life: `Uncle' Gregg, band members and associates, and primarily her own mother Donna and Duane's mother Gerry - who's still going strong at 95 and living in the same Daytona Beach childhood home the boys grew up in.

I appreciated the upfront honesty - Galadrielle acknowledges there remain many missing pieces to the puzzle of who her father was as a person and the totality of his relationship with her mother. Their union was not especially long and there's an uncomfortable yet undeniable subtext that questions how deep it really was - at least from Duane's perspective. I would imagine a lot of this was not easy to come to grips with and put down in words. Yet by the end I really felt the journey served as an important catharsis for the author.

For myself, the most powerful parts of `Please Be With Me' were the author's description of her visit to Macon with a friend, scoping out and contemplating buying the `Big House' that served as a homestead HQ for the fledging Allman Brothers Band, Galadrielle's extended meditation on what the Fillmore East album means to her, the immediate aftermath of Duane's - and very shortly thereafter - Berry's deaths and finally, rather climatically, her visit to Duane's mother in Daytona Beach and spending the night in his childhood bedroom.

It's all beautifully written, but I sometimes wished the overall narrative were framed differently, with these key events serving more as anchor points for extended flashbacks. As it stands, I found the pacing of `Please Be With Me' somewhat uneven: At times the story of the band seems the focus, at other times it's a mere backdrop to the activity of the women on the home front, and yet other scenes are told in present-day remembrance through old letters and photographs. A large part of the early book describes Duane and Gregg's childhood in great detail and most traumatically, the death of their father and experience attending military academy. Gerry, their mother, and I suspect Gregg, obviously served as a primary sources of detailed remembrances.

It's a complex timeline and very cinematic - in fact I can imagine this same story told in documentary form that might actually feel more cohesive than the book. Still, I was never tempted to stop reading: Galadrielle clearly has the gift for prose, for communicating setting and genuine emotion.

To that extent, `Please Be With Me' is better written than Gregg's `My Cross To Bear', for which it serves as a companion book. Having read both, I have to say those looking for the `guy's perspective' of rock-and-roll life will overlook any prose shortcomings in Gregg's book - his is certainly the more ribald side of the story and great fun to read. But `Please Be With Me' fills an important niche in the personal history of an important group of musicians who influenced generations and was an engrossing read albeit with a very different emotional tone.

Galadrielle also wrote the extended booklet included with `Skydog - The Duane Allman Retrospective' CD set that I would highly recommend getting and following along with - along with copies of Fillmore and Eat a Peach, of course.
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on March 14, 2014
I am a big fan of the Allman Brothers and Duane Allman,and have read every book published on both subjects. This is, by far, the most personal account of Brother Duane Allman that I have read, told with lovingly lyrical prose by his beautiful Daughter, Galadrielle Allman.

From page two, when i read this statement: "My father is killed in the first paragraph of every article ever written about him", i realized that this was gong to be different from every other book i have read on the topic. After I moved my box of kleenex a little closer,i dug in and found a book that celebrates the life, not the death, of this great man who left us way to soon. This book offers us a glance at the women involved with the ABB saga, and is told with loving care from the POV of a woman who has been surrounded by the myth of her own father.

This is a must read for any allman brothers fan, and a worthy addition to anyones library.

Thank you Ms. Allman for sharing this with me.
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on March 16, 2014
The first time I heard the Allman Brothers Band was at their first performance in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA, when I was only 15. That day changed my life. I have read every book written about the ABB, but NONE have managed to bring these musical Gods, and those surrounding them down to earth, show that they are/were human beings, warts and all, as Galadrielle has. This book is so personal, that I found myself crying, only a few pages into it. I can only imagine what went down, but now I have a greater understanding. Thank you Galadrielle, for your courage in finally getting to know your Father, and taking us all on your journey. Simply put, this is one BEAUTIFUL book.
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on July 15, 2014
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. As a long-time devotee of rock music and an avid fan of the Allman Brothers Band, I was very curious to read a memoir written by Duane Allman's daughter. I found it to be deeply insightful and moving. It is obvious from the material Galadrielle culled from those people closest to her father that he was a remarkably honest and loving man. His strength of will and belief in the music propelled the band to huge success in a comparatively short period of time.

This book tells the story of the music, but also of the personalities behind the tunes. It's apparent that this group was an amalgam of each individual's talent, not just a showcase for one man's legendary guitar prowess. The Allman Brothers were truly a family, albeit one torn apart by the lusts and dependencies of its members. Galadrielle is unsparing in both her praise of her father's good traits, his loyalty, fierce pride, and trememdous talent, but also his weaknesses for alcohol, drugs and women other than her mother. The description of the final break between Duane and Donna is truly heartbreaking.

This book definitely took me back to a time when music was taken seriously by both the musicians and the listeners, when concerts were spiritual events and not just an exchange of money. I highly recommend this book to anyone who remembers the good old days, or anyone who is interested in finding out what all the hype was about.
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on March 8, 2014
My headline is a bit tongue in cheek, but this is indeed a special book about Skydog. As I write this review I can look to my left, and see a bookshelf that contains dozens of rock biographies, but this is for the moment my favorite. I turned 50 last year, and The Allman Brothers Band music has always been a part of my life. My earliest memories are of hearing The ABB and The Beatles on the radio, and the music became the soundtrack to my life. As I've experienced good fortune and tragedy in my life, my emotions have gone a bit underground, and any tears I may shed are mostly reserved for births and deaths. This book stopped me in my tracks on the first page. I couldn't make it through the Introduction and into Chapter 1, without shedding some crocodile tears. The title is appropriate, Galadrielle's book is like a heartfelt song written to a father she never knew. Congratulations Galadrielle, what a wonderful testament to someone who has been such an important part of my musical life.
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on November 12, 2014
To me, the Allman Brothers are endless, open roads with wide blue skies. They’re the heat of desert and the wind of the plains. They were always with us on the long roadtrips my family took when I was young, their album At Fillmore East was always my parents’ first choice for car music. Sometimes, now, I put on the album once again and am transported back to those days of what I only remember as wild and free adventure, times when my parents laughed and, at least to my young self, worries were forgotten. I don’t listen to At Fillmore East very often. Only when I’m feeling nostalgic - I want the effect to remain strong, to be able to be transported back in time by only listening to this music.

My heart knows their music well, but the history of the band was unknown to me until my best friend gave me this book as a gift - the band doesn’t mean much to her, but she knew how much they mean to me so she decided it was time I learned more. I was intrigued, and waited until a time when I had quiet time to myself to settle down and learn the history of the leader of the band that was so connected with my childhood. First off, the Galadrielle Allman (named by Duane after the elf in Lord of the Rings) has amazing talents in storytelling - her writing is absorbing and flows beautifully. She writes with passion about a father she never got the chance to know, she was only two years old when he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.

Galadrielle goes deeply into detail about how the women surrounding Duane Allman lived and were treated in this Southern society, she writes especially about her mother and the upsides and downsides of being swept up by a handsome guitarist and the life of his band. I believe Galadrielle wrote this book to find peace with the father she never knew, it was a personal journey for her and while reading it I myself felt her loss and confusion, but it wrapped up beautifully at the end both emotionally and story-wise. I put the book down feeling slightly dazed as whenever I read something that completely swallows me up, her elegant prose still swirling in my head. “Please Be With Me” is on the top list of books I’ve read, and I recommend this book to anyone who has any personal connection with the Allman Brothers or anyone simply looking for a heartfelt story.
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