Rocker Gregg Allman has liver transplant

Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:14pm EDT
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By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - Allman Brothers Band co-founder Gregg Allman underwent liver-transplant surgery on Wednesday, forcing the veteran group to pull out of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival on Saturday near Chicago.

Allman, who was diagnosed with hepatitis C in late 2007, underwent the transplant at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

"I feel pretty good, considering everything that's happened," the 62-year-old keyboardist said in a statement. "Everybody involved here, my doctors and nurses in the hospital and all the Allman Brothers fans, they've just all been great ... All I can say is 'thanks.'"

Shortly after his hepatitis was diagnosed, Allman told Billboard that the disease "was laying dormant for awhile and just kind of crept up on me. I was worn out. I had to sleep 10 or 11 hours a day to play two or three (hours). It's just one of those things that sneaks up on you and will just kind of ride you for as long as you don't know you have it."

Allman, who co-founded the group in 1969 with late brother Duane and remaining original members Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson, added that after being treated, he had "more appreciation for life ... There could be people that are reading this now and they have it and don't know they have it, and all it takes is a blood test. If you catch it early, before you get real fatigued and tired like I did, you can beat it."

There's no word yet on Allman's long-term prognosis or when the band would be able to play live again, although he did say in Wednesday's statement that "I can't wait to get back on the road making music with my friends." The group played its traditional New York City theater residency in March, and the Crossroads Festival was the only show on its summer itinerary. Allmans guitarist Derek Trucks will fill in at Crossroads with his own band, joined by his wife Susan Tedeschi.