When Michael Allman performs Friday at Aces Live the singer will be only a couple miles from where he spent a memorable summer with his famous father on Anna Maria Island. Born in Daytona Beach, Michael Allman grew up with a different surname believing the man raising him was his father. But after the person Michael called Dad died in a plane crash, he learned the truth about his rock ’n’ roll heritage.
“I would have never known had he not died,” said the 47-year-old Michael Allman by phone from his New Port Richey home. “But when I was crying, my mother told me. At age 9, I didn’t know who Gregg Allman was. But by the time I was 14, 15, it sunk in.”
Michael immersed himself in Gregg Allman’s classic 1973 solo album “Laid Back.” It’s a gorgeous collection of gospel, soul and R&B. A highly personal album, it finds Gregg poignantly singing about majestic love (“Queen of Hearts”), broken relationships (“These Days”), life on the road (“Midnight Rider”) and overcoming tragedy (“Will the Circle be Unbroken”).
“I got a lot of fatherly advice from that album,” Michael said. “That album was the closest I could get to him before growing up and at the age of 17 showing up at his door.”
Gregg lived on Anna Maria Island when the Allman Brothers Band broke up for a second time in 1982 amid internal struggles and changing music trends. It would be several years before Gregg would find solo success again with “I’m No Angel” and then bring the Allman Brothers Band back for an amazing third act that has been going strong for more than two decades. But in the early 1980s, Gregg was still trying to figure things out when he learned he had a teenage son who would be staying with him for the summer.
“So here comes this guy, and he’s about six foot four, and he knows shit about shit,” Gregg recalls in his recent bestselling book “My Cross to Bear.” “We did have a great old time; I bought him a fishing rod, and I took him out one day. We hit a damn redfish hole and he was catching them right, left and in between, just having the time of his life.”
Michael also recalled the fishing experience fondly.
“His house had a dock right in the backyard and it was absolutely beautiful,” Michael said. “We’d go out on that dock and sit and fish and one of those birds would come by and he’d feed that bird. He named it George.”
Gregg has been sober since the mid-1990s but drank heavily when he lived on Anna Maria Island. In addition to taking his eldest son to bars, he writes in his book about introducing Michael to his first adult entertainment venue.
“It was awesome,” Michael said. “It was my first fun experience going anywhere with him at all. And then we bounced into this open gambling night and he performed ‘Melissa’ all by himself. It was overwhelming.”
Michael eventually returned home and with father’s famous voice frequently pouring out of the speakers, focused on singing and writing songs. He formed the Michael Allman Band in the 1990s and after beating testicular cancer, self-released his debut album “Michael Allman's Hard Labor Creek” in 2009.
When Michael performs Friday at Aces, he will be fronting a six-piece featuring a twin guitar and keyboard attack similar to the one pioneered by the Allman Brothers Band. He’ll be singing some Allman Brothers Band songs, too.
“I love the Allman Brothers Band music,” Michael said. “Father or no father, it’s my favorite music.”