GEORGIA MUSIC HALL OF FAME ROCKS
By R. Marty Willett
GMHF Director of Volunteers and GABBA Chairman Emeritus
The world's greatest rock & roll band has been further honored in the band's land of its birth at the brand new Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Although the individual members of the Allman Brothers Band had personal and professional ties from coast to coast and throughout the southern states, after the band's "conception" at the historic Jacksonville Jam, the Allman Brothers Band was "birthed" in the heart of Georgia, in Macon in 1969. Macon is also appropriately the home of the state's official shrine to honor and celebrate the wealth of music that Georgia has given the world - the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame opened last September, the weekend after GABBAfest '96. In fact, the GABBA get together offered a sneak preview of this amazing new museum as final touches were being made for the Grand Opening. The Grand Opening Gala was a black tie benefit that over 1000 attended with many music greats including other Macon hometown heroes, Little Richard and REM's Mike Mills and Bill Berry. Some of the other musical legends that attended the festive event hosted by Martha Quinn were members of the B-52's, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Classics IC, the Pips, the Otis Redding family, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. GABBA sponsored Mama Louise's attendance at the celebration as a small tribute to her tremendous devotion and dedication to the Brothers with her unabashed and complete unconditional love for them and their family of fans. A special treat during the evening was a brief performance by Travis Tritt whose inspiration is non other that Brother Duane, who he sings about in a song he composed at Rose Hill entitled, "Put a Little Drive in My Country."
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame was conceived in 1978 by then Lt. Governor Zell Miller, who dreamed of a public institution to both preserve and promote the state's rich and surprising musical heritage from the ancient Americans in prehistoric times to the hottest hits of the day. Since 1979, the Friends of Georgia Music have inducted 67 notable Georgians into the Hall of Fame. Brother Duane was inducted in 1982 and the ceremony was treated with a performance by Brother Gregg, who accepted Duane's GEORGY Award along with beaming Mama A. Just a few of the other impressive inductees are Little Richard, Otis Redding, Joe South, James Brown, Ma Rainey, Ray Charles, Brenda Lee, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and Chet Atkins.
Starting in 1992, the "Performing Group" category was added to the Hall of Fame's inductions, and since 1992 GABBA has nominated and lobbied for the Allman Brothers Band's formal induction. The nomination states, "Macon became the home of the legendary Allman Brothers Band in 1969 and although correctly credited for creating the Southern Rock phenomenon success. Today they are internationally acclaimed as one of the finest rock & roll bands in the world. They have produced many gold an platinum records including the classics "Live at Fillmore East," "Eat A Peach," and "Brothers and Sisters." They have also contributed to many worth causes through numerous benefit and free concerts. Through tragedies and triumphs, the band has maintained and improved it's distinct soul searching, heart pounding, spirit soaring sound by blending elements of rock, jazz, blues, gospel, and country music with outstanding improvisational virtuosic performances." The induction process can be trying, tedious, and time consuming, but GABBA will definitely keep the faith that eventually the Allman Brothers Band will be so honored since they are certainly so deserving.
Meanwhile, due to the legion of loving and loyal fans, the efforts of GABBA, and the cooperative efforts between the Georgia Music Hall of Fame staff and Allman Brothers Band management, the Brothers - past and present, have an outstanding presence in this awesome museum. With over 43,000 square feet, the expansive space is wonderfully veiled by the building's flowing and rhythmic extremely modern architecture. While the architecture is impressive, the museums 12,000 square foot exhibition hall really blows visitors away with it's unique and lively presentation. Visitors are astounded to discover a recreated Georgia town have a perpetual music festival right at sunset with the street lights and neon signs brightening up this wonderful world of Georgia music. Faithful and detailed recreations of a Jazz club, Gospel Chapel, Rhythm & Blues revue, Backstage Alley, Country Cafe, Rock & Roll Record Store, Soda Fountain, Classic Theater, and Memory Lane entertain and educated visitors with plenty of music and memorabilia. The affectionately named "Tune Town" is truly awesome.
The Brothers are found throughout "Tune Town." In the R&B Revue there is Brother Gregg's hand written songbook opened up to "Leave My Blues At Home." The Brothers are found in the Backstage Alley and even Country Cafe, but the Rock & Roll Record Store features their main exhibit with over 40 surprising and spine tingling items on display. Among the Allman Brothers Band treasures are personal items that belonged to Duane, a set of Jaimoe's drumsticks given at a local friend's wedding. Berry's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Award, rare photos, and plenty of mushrooms and peaches. Duane looms larger than life in the town's theater where the audience picks Georgia Music videos with an applause meter. Among the many great choices, Allman Brothers Band fans are thrilled to discover part of the historic Fillmore East concert.
There are two other special displays on Duane in the main exhibit hall as well as more Allman brothers Band items found in the museum's third floor meeting area, the Macon Room. The Hall of Fame's Gift Shop will be another paradise for Allman Brothers Band fans. Along with traditional and unique items, you will find a smorgasbord of Allman Brothers Band merchandise for your purchasing pleasure. The museum's Library & Archives exponentially expands the enjoyment and celebration of Georgia music by allowing the public access to the GMHF Archives seven days a week. Music lovers and researchers, and especially Allmaniacs, will be thrilled with the tremendous asset of the museum. Plans have been made to transfer the extensive Allman Brothers Band collection at Macon's Washington Memorial Library to this more music (and fan) friendly environment.
The GMHF is open Monday - Saturday, 9-5, and Sunday 1-5, with a cost of $7.50 for adults and $3.50 for children. For more information on the GMHF and GABBA: call Marty at 1-888-GA ROCKS, ext 103
Visit the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Web site.