The Big House Collection
The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House
This book is faithfully dedicated to every member of the Allman Brothers Band and their families, crew members, management, friends and various disreputable people who journeyed down the road that went on forever.
The Allman Brothers Band formed on March 26, 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida led by the musical innovation of Duane Allman. Along with Allman, the band included Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Butch Trucks, Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts, and Gregg Allman, and their unprecedented sound arguably gave birth to so-called Southern Rock and forged a path for many new groups to follow. The band relocated to Macon, Georgia a few days after its creation to be managed by Phil Walden under Capricorn Records (co-owned by Walden and Frank Fenter) and to practice at their newly established Capricorn Studios. It wasn’t until 1970 that Linda Oakley-Miller would rent the 18-room sprawling Tudor house for $225 a month, and it would remain home and gathering place for the band until 1973, the “Big House.” Not all of of them “officially” lived there, however. In his foreword, John Lynskey points out that “while the Big House was important to the band, it was Berry and Linda’s home,” a fact often overlooked. There was enough success and sorrow to pack into a lifetime during that short span within and without its walls, but with the help of Oakley-Miller among many others, it has been restored to its former glory.
The hardcover, 224-page labor of love with its glossy, high resolution photos and in-depth descriptions is a must have for any Allman Brothers Band fan. Segmented into five chapters, “Instruments,” “Clothing,” “Posters,” “Assorted Items,” and “Paper” with stunning images and corresponding notes, it offers a small glimpse into the treasure trove of artifacts housed within the museum’s walls. The material does span all eras of the band but there is a heavier focus on the earliest years. There are also poignant commentaries preceding each chapter from the aforementioned John Lynskey and Linda Oakley-Miller as well as Galadrielle Allman, Kirk West, and Kirsten West, plus a heartfelt closing from Richard Brent, The Big House Museum Director. It was Kirk and Kirsten West who truly spearheaded the restoration of the house, purchasing and renovating it in 1993, and the eventual creation of the museum. Be sure to read Kirsten’s words on page 185. They are profoundly moving and really place you along on the Wests’ inspiring journey to Macon.
Macon itself has a rich, storied history and while you are there you can explore it for yourself or take a guided tour with Rock Candy Tours. Places such as Rose Hill Cemetery, H&H Soul Food (sometimes “Mama” Louise Hudson is even there), Robert McDuffie Center for Strings (formerly Beall House, where the iconic Stephen Paley photo for the eponymously named first Allman Brothers Band album was taken on its steps), and the newly renovated Capricorn Studios are just some of the many sites to visit while you are there.
On a personal note, I’m proud to be one of the hundreds of supporters who backed this project through a Kickstarter campaign. 895 fans pledged well over $100,000 for this project to see fruition. The book is available at The Big House Museum online gift shop, which also offers many other band-related items for sale. Due to the current health risks the museum itself is closed but when it does reopen, the book can be purchased on site in the gift shop along with many other unique offerings. Whether you’re a casual or die-hard fan and you’ve never made the pilgrimage, I highly encourage you to do so. If you can’t get there, then this coffee table book is the next best thing. The museum is chock full of memorabilia that is updated and rotated often. There is something magical about taking that first step over the threshold. I have read countless comments from people who say that the tears flowed down their cheeks as they entered for the first time, and I count myself among those. It’s a powerful place. Once again, I defer to the words of John Lynskey:
If you’re lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right moment in the Big House, perhaps you will feel a surge of positive energy swirl in and pass through your body, an echo of the time when a band of brothers called this house their home.
I know EXACTLY what he means. I feel it EVERY time I am there. But don’t just take my word for it – see for yourself.
The Road Goes On Forever…