On October 29, 1971, Duane Allman, the soulful lead guitarist who wove expressive and fluid guitar solos into the music of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, Derek and the Dominoes and the Allman Brothers Band, died in a motorcycle crash near Macon, Georgia. He left behind an already remarkable musical legacy, a young wife and a 2-year-old daughter named Galadrielle.
With the same musical emotion that her father spun into the songs he played, Allman’s daughter Galadrielle spins a poignant and illuminating portrait of a father she never knew in Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. The book is part memoir and part biography, as she chronicles not only Duane’s life, but also her own search to discover and appreciate her late father.
Duane named his daughter for Galadriel, the princess of the elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, his favorite book. But after her father’s death, Galadrielle’s mother rarely shared stories about Duane, and her only contact with his musical legacy was an annual trip to an Allman Brothers concert. “I didn’t have his clothing or trinkets to treasure and cling to,” she writes. “Most of our pictures of him were the same publicity stills reprinted in the press.”
As she searches for a fuller portrait of her father, Galadrielle gathers stories from her family, Duane’s bandmates (including his brother Gregg) and friends. Her quest reveals a man so immersed in music that his hands played guitar notes even in his sleep.
From her father’s brief life (he was only 24 when he was killed), Galadrielle gleans “bits of wisdom” that she chooses to embrace: “Do what you love and own who you are. Time is precious and death is real. So is Art: it defies them both.”
In the end, writing this book simultaneously opens and closes a chapter in her life. “I want to believe you will stay close to me. I tell myself you live in my blood and bones and you will come when I need you. I will stop seeking you constantly now. I will know you are in me and not out in the world,” she writes. “We are tied together as surely as a string is wound tightly through the tuning peg of a guitar. The connection between us is physical, actual, real.”
Galadrielle Allman’s sweet song to her father brings Duane Allman to life in a way that no other biography will ever be able to do.