100 Greatest Singers
December 8th, 1947
Key Tracks "Midnight Rider," "Whipping Post"
Influenced Ronnie Van Zant, Warren Haynes, Darius Rucker
For Gregg Allman, all roads lead back to Ray Charles: "When I heard him, I was like, 'That's my goal in life,' " says Allman, who grew up mimicking the R&B records he heard in his segregated childhood hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida. "Ray Charles is the one who taught me to just relax and let it ooze out. If it's in your soul, it'll come out." Allman's mournful wail comes out on Allman Brothers standards like "It's Not My Cross to Bear" and "Whipping Post." Dwight Yoakam says Allman's white-blues tradition goes back to Hank Williams. "It's not just the African-American influence but the country side of his voice," says Yoakam. "You could take 'Midnight Rider' and do it to 'Lovesick Blues.' " Even in his earliest recordings, says Sheryl Crow, "He sounded like he'd already lived a thousand lifetimes."