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Columns > Lee Abraham

Published: 2001/07/17
by Lee Abraham

Doggy Style

-A new book by longtime Allman Brothers Roadie, The Legendary Red Dog, takes readers on a fast paced walk through the sex, drugs and rock & roll of the bands early years
My first musical recollection dates back to 1965. I was five years old and living in Brooklyn, New York. We lived in a two story brownstone with a full basement. My bedroom was at the rear of the second floor and it had a big window that looked across the concrete alley behind us and into the rear yards of the neighbors on the other side.
One night as I was lying in bed trying to sleep, a neighbor across the alley was having a party. At first I didnt know what the heck was going on. Sure was noisy though, so I looked out the window to see what was happening. At first, I couldnt seem much. Not only was it dark, but there were some large trees partially obstructing my view.
All I could really make out was the silhouette of bodies, lots of em, dancing in the moonlight. But while my eyes had very little to work with, my ears were flooded with sound. Above everything else, the high pitched squeals of girls laughing captured my attention as I stood looking out the window trying to figure out what was so funny. There was also plenty of crowd noise, an indecipherable cacophony from a bunch of people all speaking at the same time.
Every so often the crowd would roar and then the talking and laughter would subside as the dancing became more intense. And thats when I started to notice the music. For me, it was the sound of fun. I didnt have any idea what songs were being played, I just knew that the teenagers across the way were having a helluva good time, the likes of which I had never seen, and from my point of view, the music was the reason why.
Maybe it was because I couldnt actually see what was happening, but from that night on, my imagination was tuned into wonders of the musical wavelength. Four decades later, it still is.
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I just finished a great book and I want to tell you about it. Joseph The Legendary Red Dog Campbell is an original member of the Allman Brothers Band road crew dating back to the bands inception in 1969. The legendary Red Dog is legendary for a reason. Well, actually several reasons. As one of the Allman Brothers original roadies, Red Dog was a first hand witness, and in many cases, a participant, in some of the highest highs and lowest lows ever experienced by a rock band. And the guys also a great story teller. His new book, "A Book Of Tails," proves it.
A Book Of Tails is chock full of never-been-told stories from the early years of the Allman Brothers, and it is one wild read. Anyone who saw the film, Almost Famous, about the life of Rolling Stone Magazines music journalist Cameron Crowe, might recall Red Dogs character in the movie. Can you say: sex, drugs, rock and roll? ...yowza!
As the title suggests, A Book Of Tails, is a collection of memories, experiences and adventures. Written in the first person, each chapter is like having a private conversation with Red Dog. And the stories he tells… wow! Some of the real life characters that appear in the book are now icons of the psychedelic 60s: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Graham, Jerry Garcia, among many others. But its the stories of the band members and road crew that make A Book Of Tails such a compelling read. Especially for Allman Brothers fans.
Focusing on the bands early years, Red Dog gives a rare, insiders account of several incidents that have been forever etched into the history of the Allman Brothers. In the process, he gives readers a fresh sense of the band members complex personalities, including the charismatic aura of Duane Allman, Berry Oakleys passionate intensity, and the explosive volatility of Dickie Betts. Even the most die hard Allman Brothers fan will feel like they know the band better after reading A Book Of Tails.
And it nots just a bunch of warm and fuzzy memories of the good ol days. Red Dog slings some dirt. At times hilarious, warm and exhilarating, others harshly honest about heroin, violence and self destruction, A Book Of Tails is candid, shocking, occasionally painful, and thoroughly entertaining.
My favorite Red Dog tales are about surviving early financial struggles through an absolute belief in their music, and how that created a special bond of brotherhood among the band and crew. I like that stuff. Of course, all the wild sex makes for interesting reading, including tales of the bands first orgy, countless groupies, sex on motorcycles at high speeds, and maybe best of all, Red Dog describes receiving what is arguably the most famous blowjob in rock and roll history on stage in Rochester, New York, as the band played and spotlights bright light glared.
Theres more. Red Dog relates the story of the band and crew checking into a motel room in Amarillo, Texas, with eight bottles of A-200 to take showers and disinfect themselves from a group case of the crabs. Funny stuff. On the dark side, Red Dog tells about drug overdoses, trouble with the law and jail time, and perhaps the most notorious incident in the Allman Brothers history, when their original manager, Twiggs Lyndon, killed a bar manager in Buffalo, New York, in a fight for refusing to pay the band after a show.
Theres also some great behind-the-scenes insight into the now historical Watkins Glen concert with the Grateful Dead and the Band, moving recollections of the tragic deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, as well as lighter anecdotes about the road crew forming their own group, the Almost Brothers Band, and alot more.
Few people get to experience the intense highs and lows Red Dog has seen over the years. Most music fans are like a kid looking out a window at a party they can hear but cant quite see – the mind races with possibilities. By taking the time and energy to share some of these experiences and his unique perspective with the rest of us, Red Dog’s A Book Of Tails is an open invitation to join the party, and proof positive that reality is wilder than anything the imagination can dream!
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A Book Of Tails can be purchased directly from Red Dog himself online at www.legendaryreddog.com or by phone at (804)798-4322
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Lee Abraham is a freelance writer currently on assignment in Ocean Beach, California. Contact him directly at mrlee@jambands.com or visit his Adventures In Music Journalism website at www.mrlee.com

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