One of the benefits of being a rock and roll DJ is talking to people you'd never get a chance to otherwise, like the great Gregg Allman, who was my first big time "rock star" interview.
In the summer of 2002, I was doing the night shift at a rock station in Connecticut - 95.1 FM WRKI. I had been there for a few years but missed out on interviewing musicians coming through the area since, most of the time, they appeared on either the morning or afternoon drive show when most listeners were tuning in. When the summertime came around, however, I got to fill in for the afternoon jock. This particular summer, I landed one of those interviews and, man, I couldn't have asked for more.
To be honest, when I found out I was going to interview Gregg Allman, I was both excited and frightened. As a huge Allman Bros. Band fan, I was charged up but I was also a bit concerned. I remember hearing from fellow jocks that Gregg could be ornery, difficult, quiet, and moody when doing interviews.
When the day came for the interview, I was prepared. I had my questions. I was ready but I also couldn't shake off the fear that this interview would go down like the Hindenburgh based on everything I'd heard. The big, red phone studio light started blinking. This is it. It's showtime. My hand clammy and slightly shaky as I reach over to press the button to answer the phone. There goes the click of the phone connecting, it's Gregg's manager on the other line. He introduces himself, I introduce myself. I asked his manager if Gregg was cool with questions about his brother Duane. He told me that was OK as long as I didn't get too personal. I assured him I wouldn't. "OK. I'm gonna hand the phone over to Gregg," he said. There's a pause. I hear the phone get handed over to Gregg. Here we go...
Over the studio speakers I hear a voice with a slow and cool Southern growl: "Hello!"
"Hey Gregg! This is Eric. It's great to meet you," I nervously responded.
"Eric! Great to meet you too," he said.
Then came my unprofessional fanboy comment: "I can't believe I'm talkin' to you right now."
Now I screwed it up, I thought. Why did you just say that?! What an idiot! Think Chris Farley talking to Paul McCartney on SNL.
There was a pause...then Gregg responded with a Southern drawl: "Well, why's that?"
I respond: "....'cuz you're Gregg Allman man!"
Gregg let out a big belly laugh. And with that, the tension had lifted. From that point on, I felt like I was chatting with a regular dude. A regular dude who happened to have one of the greatest voices in rock history, who wrote some of the most iconic songs in rock history, who...well, you get the picture. Let's get to the interview.
LISTEN: "Brothers and Sisters: The Allman Brothers Band & the Inside Story of the Album That Defined the '70s"/Alan Paul [Episode 143]