Galadrielle Allman has. All of her life.
I just finished Please Be With Me, Galadrielle's extremely intimate and, oh my goodness, incredibly moving (how many times did I cry reading this book?!) story of her father, Duane Allman.
Duane died at the age of 24, when Galadrielle was two. So, of course, she has no memory of her father. All she has are stories told to her by family and friends and the precious photos and recordings that she's been able to get her hands on. I was so impressed by this girl! Her story, their story, contains so much love, humor, wisdom and this almost unbearable, heartbreaking longing for her daddy. I felt so sorry for her so many times. I can't even imagine the loss, how she grew up with her daddy's face looking back at her in the mirror and how she had to tiptoe around her mother when she had questions of their brief time together, when she needed details about her father. There was a deep hunger to know and the only way she could was to ask questions and they were sometimes painful ones. Her Uncle Gregg helped her as did other members of the Allman Brothers Band, her grandmother (Jerry! Such a wonderful, strong woman she was!) and people like Boz Scaggs and Eric Clapton, who were there and worked with Duane. I didn't know that Duane does the guitar riff in Clapton's "Layla" and I certainly didn't know that the royalties for Duane's contribution abruptly ceased in the 80's and Galadrielle had to fight Clapton for twenty years in court to get what is rightfully hers. She's a tough little cookie, that Gragri, as her daddy called her.
The story flows so smoothly and begins, well, at the Allman Brothers' beginning, with their parents, and follows the boys through their childhoods, raised at Daytona Beach by their single mother after their father was killed in 1950, through the long years of struggling to "make it big", the ups and downs of stardom, the good, the bad and the really, really ugly.
The story of her parents, Duane and Donna, is a bittersweet one. There was no doubt to me that he adored her but the road, drugs, other women and his music consumed him. He was a little burned-out star in no time. Donna lived at The Big House with Berry Oakley's wife, Linda and their baby girl, Brittany and Berry's sister, Candy, while the guys were on the road. I loved the descriptions Galadrielle gave of the beautiful tapestries and rugs and second hand furniture they collected around Macon and the pride those little hippie girls took in making a happy home for their guys.
But when he brought his road girlfriend, Dixie, to The Big House with Donna and two-year-old Galadrielle RIGHT THERE, I was like, "Now, Duane, that is too much!". Donna thought so, too, but instead of kickin' that girl's tail, she took her baby and left. It was as though Duane was driving her away, as though he knew something bad was about to happen and he wanted to get his wife and baby away from it.
He died nine months later, after having an accident on Hillcrest Avenue in Macon, when his motorcycle clipped a truck.
Galadrielle tells a beautiful story of love and loss, love for a daddy she never really had and an almost haunting longing for what should have been.
I loved it. I didn't want to put it down. I hardly did.
If you want your own copy, you can get it here.
Included in the book are a bunch of family photos and this one gets me every time I look at it.
A very young daddy holding his baby girl. It's the only photo she has of the two of them together.