Allman Betts

Greg Allman was one of my favorite musicians. He gave us so many unforgettable songs and some of the most timeless melodies and lyrics in all of music.

Here’s a fun little story from the summer of 1990. Theresa and I went to Darien Lakes to see the Allman Brothers. The tickets included a pass for the amusement park for the day so we got there early and enjoyed the rides before the show. Now I love roller coasters. Seriously. The bigger and faster, the better. We were excited to ride the new Predator, a wooden coaster that was touted as one of the best of that type around.

We love riding in the front car, so we waited the extra time and finally got to ride in the back seat of the front car. The ride was frankly awful. Very uncomfortable car and seating, not enough padding, and the ride quality was way too rough for my taste. My ribs were aching as we approached the station and I was anxious to get free of the bloody thing. As the car stopped and the restraining bars released, a ride operator stepped into the seat in front of us and said, “How would you two like to ride again?”

I spoke up and said, “No thanks, just let us off.”

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The young man said with a wide grin, “Well…you see this came off your car when you left the station,” as he held up an 8 inch long curved piece of metal. “It’s nothing to worry about, but it’s the part that releases the lap bar. Now, you can either keep riding until the mechanic gets here, or we can close the ride and make all these people wait.”

We both looked over at the corralled, sweaty, anxious people waiting for an hour to ride and they all started chanting, “Ride again! Ride again!”

So we agreed to ride again. After about several more rides I was in agony. I was sure I had broken a rib or two and I really didn’t care if the ride had to be shut down. When we got back to the station I was about to demand they stop when we looked at the platform and saw the next people waiting to board the front car. It was Greg Allman and Dickey Betts. I was both thrilled and angry that I had to endure yet another round of the infernal ride. The ride attendant ushered Greg and Dickey into the front car and they both turned around and shook our hands. Greg said, “The guy says you two’ve been riding this for quite a while.”

I mustered a smile and said, “Yeah…you’re gonna love it.”

So, we departed the station once more and enjoyed yet another round of bone shaking, rib crushing excitement, only this time with Greg Allman’s flowing blonde hair blowing in our faces.

When the ride ended the mechanic was finally there and released us from our imprisonment. Greg and Dickey asked if we were going to the show and we said we were. They shook our hands again and told us to enjoy the show.

It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. The level of musicianship on display was staggering. The jams were amazing and the crowd was enraptured (and very, very stoned). It was a great day and a great memory.

Thanks for the music, Greg.

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