The Allman Brothers Band

The Flower Guy and His Younger Brother

By Rick de Yampert

Daytona Beach News-Journal Entertainment Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — Floyd Miles remembers the flowers. His wife had just given birth to their first daughter and his friend — this kid, really, because Miles himself was just 17 — brought flowers to the hospital.

Brad Yates remembers how he and his friends often crashed overnight at the Daytona Beach home of the flower guy and his younger brother, leaving their mom to cook breakfast for a battalion-size horde.

Sylvan Wells remembers how the flower guy’s younger brother wanted to be a dentist, and give up the fledgling rock ‘n’ roll band the two brothers had started.

That dentist thing didn’t work out.

Instead the brothers, Duane and Gregg Allman, followed their rock ‘n’ roll dreams all the way to the big time, as the Alllman Brothers Band earned a place in music history and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Their dreams happened to be born in Daytona Beach — the two youngsters moved here in the late 1950s from Nashville, Tenn., with their mother.

“Oh God, we were one step past garage band,” Gregg Allman says of his Daytona days, speaking by phone from his Savannah, Ga., home. The Allman Brothers Band will return here for a concert Sunday at the Ocean Center.

“The mood was total excitement, man,” Allman says of the days when he and Duane performed at the pier, the Martinique (now the Full Moon Saloon) on Main Street, and other area venues. “It was a lot of fun.”

Likewise, the Allmans’ Daytona days still bring smiles to local residents.

“All Duane ever wanted to do was play guitar — that was it,” Wells says fondly.

A Daytona Beach attorney who knew the Allmans in the mid-1960s, Wells was one grade ahead of Gregg at Seabreeze High School. Wells also was a guitarist in the rock band the Nightcrawlers, which had a friendly rivalry with the brothers’ band, the Allman Joys.

“Gregg, on the other hand, wanted to go to school and ultimately become a dentist,” Wells adds. “But Duane kept telling him Just one more year! Give me one more year!’ It turned out exactly like he said.”

Miles was a young member of the Untils, an all-black singing group that performed at the Oceanside Pier, backed by an all-white band called the Houserockers. He got to know Duane and Gregg when they came to watch, and learn from, Houserockers guitarist Jim Shepley.

The young Allmans were so thirsty for musical knowledge — and so gregarious — that they wanted to hang out more with Miles. That presented a problem.

“That was back in the segregated days,” says Miles, a former animal control officer who remains friends with Gregg. In fact, Miles continues to sing professionally and he’ll hit the road with the Gregg Allman and Friends tour later this year.

“I couldn’t hang out on the beachside after I got through working,” Miles adds. “So Gregg and Duane started hanging out across the tracks, in the black section known as Madison Heights. Back then the clubs over here were a little more lenient.

“We’d come over here and play, woodshed (musician lingo for practice), hang out. They used to come over to my house. In fact, Duane was there the night when my first daughter was born . . . he went out to the hospital and took flowers. He was that kind of guy — real considerate of everybody.”

Yates was a few years younger than the Allmans, but he too was pursuing his rock ‘n’ roll dreams in such local bands as the Stone Balloon and Jules Verne Auto Supply.

By the late ’60s the brothers had scored a bit of success and “were travelling all over the place and were like local heroes,” says Yates, a professional musician and member of the music staff at First United Methodist Church in Ormond Beach.

“Every time they came back to town, they couldn’t wait to jam somewhere,” Yates says. “By this time Duane had already played with Aretha Franklin and all those people (as a session guitarist). We would be practicing with our band and Duane would show up. He had a bottle of wine, a cigarette and there he went. All he wanted to do was play.”

Of course, Yates adds, the Allmans would stay at the home of their mother, and “an army” of jam friends would spend the night. Mrs. Allman “would cook breakfast for everybody,” Yates says. “She was really neat like that. She supported those guys.”

Other fond memories abound. Wells recalls the time in the mid-1960s when the Nightcrawlers and the Allman Joys opened for the Beach Boys during a concert at City Island. While the Nightcrawlers were the more popular local band at the time, the Allmans were, Wells readily admits, “much better musicians.”

Yates recalls the time he ran into Gregg at a local riverside club in 1971, after the Allman Brothers Band had scored widespread acclaim for its second album, “Idlewild South.” “He grabbed an acoustic guitar and took me outside and we sat on a flower bed wall,” Yates says. “He said, I want to play you this song that’s going to be on our next album.’ It was Melissa.’ I got chill bumps right now.”

Miles, Wells and Yates each remember the Allmans’ generosity, their encouragement of their fellow musicians, their gentlemanly side, especially that of Duane, who died at age 24 in 1971 from a motorcycle accident.

“You can gather that if you have any history of the Allman Brothers Band,” Miles says. “They always talk about family . . . encouragement, helping people.”


If you go

WHO: Allman Brothers Band and Derek Trucks in concert.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Ocean Center, 101 N. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach.

TICKETS: $45 and $39.75 plus service charge, available at the box office and Ticketmaster.

INFORMATION: (386) 254-4545.


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