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A Thunderous Spirit

Berry Oakley's thundering bass and charismatic on-stage presence often overshadow the fact that he was a very reflective, idealistic and results-oriented person. It's well known that his musical journey led him from Chicago to Florida, where he hooked up with Dickey Betts, played in The Second Coming, met Duane Allman, and joined the Allman Brother Band. What's not so well known is that Berry established a communal lifestyle in Florida.

When the Allman Brothers Band moved to Macon, it was Berry who found a house they could live, rehearse, celebrate and withdraw to together. He encouraged sit-down family dinners at least once a week and felt very strongly that everyone in their extended family give back something to their adopted home. While the constant-touring of the Allman Brothers Band limited their civic involvement, it was not uncommon to see stories and photos of their wives and girlfriends in the Macon newspaper recording their involvement with some worthy local cause.

On November 11, 1972, Berry was riding with Kim Payne, a member of the road crew, when he took his Triumph motorcycle into a curve too fast and hit a Macon City bus. Immediately after the accident Berry said he was fine and refused treatment. Later that evening, he was taken to the same hospital. He had suffered a skull fracture and died.

A resolution designating a portion of State Highway 19 in Macon as "Duane Allman Boulevard" and a bridge thereon as "Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge" in honor and remembrance of late founding members of the Allman Brothers Band has been passed.

A Resolution

SR 653 98
LC 25 0978

SENATE RESOLUTION 653
By: Senator Brown of the 26th

A RESOLUTION
Designating a portion of State Highway 19 in Macon as "Duane Allman Boulevard" and a bridge thereon as "Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge" in honor and members of the Allman Brothers Band; and for other purposes. WHEREAS, in 1969, a group of young but already seasoned and demonstrably and incredibly talented musicians, including guitarist Duane Allman, bassist Berry Oakley, vocalist and organist Gregg Allman, guitarist Dickey Betts, percussionist Butch Trucks, and percussionist Jaimoe, formed the Allman Brothers Band and established the band's home in Macon in April of that year; and WHEREAS, at now legendary jam sessions at their initial base on College Street, their later home at the "Big House" on Vineville Avenue, and other locations in and around Macon, including Rose Hill Cemetery and a farm known as Idlewild South, the band fused elements of blues, jazz, rock, and country music to create a musical genre now known and loved as "southern rock" and became one of the most exciting groups of performers ever to take the stage; and

WHEREAS, the band members' talents and tour de force marathon performances across the nation not only received critical acclaim and awed their peers among musical greats but also served to inspire countless others and made Macon a musical mecca; and WHEREAS, Duane Allman's all too brief life was tragically ended at age 24 by a motorcycle accident on a street in Macon on October 29, 1971, and Berry Oakley suffered a similar fate at the same age and at almost the same location a year later on November 11, 1972; and WHEREAS, although their presence is sadly missed, these musicians' incomparable and wide ranging talents, creativity, inspiration, soulfulness, and dedication to their art stirringly remain evidenced in legacies of live performances and studio recordings of such songs and compositions as "Statesboro Blues," "Dreams," "Midnight Rider," "Whipping Post," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Mountain Jam," "Blue Sky," and "Little Martha"; and WHEREAS, while the bodies of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley rest peacefully in Rose Hill Cemetery, the spirit of each, like the road, "goes on forever," and the love and intensity with which they lived their lives and made their music remain always in the hearts and minds of family and legions of fellow Maconites, musicians, friends, and fans worldwide; and

WHEREAS, it is only fitting and proper that their lives and memories be honored by this state and in the community which they graced with their gifts and spirits. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the portion of State Highway 19 from its intersection with Holt Avenue to its intersection with College Street in the City of Macon is designated as "Duane Allman Boulevard." BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the bridge on that same portion of State Highway 19 which spans Interstate 75 is designated as "Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge." BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the the Department of Transportation is authorized and directed to erect and maintain appropriate signs so designating that portion of the highway and the bridge, respectively.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to transmit appropriate copies of this resolution to the Department of Transportation, the family of Duane Allman, and the family of Berry Oakley.
Clerk of the House
Robert E. Rivers, Jr., Clerk

Tributes
Berry's spirit lives on in the Mantra of the Extended Family, which he inspired:

There really is an extended family.
No heart beats alone.
No hand outstretched goes unheld,
No tear unwiped, no smile unshared,
No love unspoken.
There really is an extended family.
And you belong.

Take care and know that you are loved, Berry ...

For a great bio of Berry from Vintage Guitar click here.

For more photos of Berry click here.

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Berry Oakley Tribute
 
Posted on Tuesday, January 01, 2002 - 11:41 AM
Share your thoughts and memories of the man who played a thundering bass and lived a powerful life here.

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