Jackson Browne honored his late friend and collaborator Gregg Allman with a cover of the Allman Brothers Band‘s “Melissa” during the first night of the Laid Back Festival in Holmdel, New Jersey Thursday. Allman founded the traveling festival in 2015.
Browne delivered a faithful interpretation of the beloved Eat a Peach track, singing the tune in a low voice tinged with wanderlust, nostalgia and a little bit of heartbreak. Browne and his bandmates came together for some beautiful harmonies as well, while their arrangement floated with sweeping pedal steel, delicate guitar and an appropriately wistful organ.
Browne and Allman first became friends in the late Sixties, when Gregg and his brother Duane were fronting their pre-Allman Brothers outfit, Hour Glass. Hour Glass recorded the Browne-penned song, “Cast Off All of My Fears” for their debut album, while later Allman rearranged Jackson’s song, “These Days,” for his 1973 solo LP, Laid Back. The pair also famously covered “Melissa” for the 2014 tribute album/concert, All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman.
Allman died in May of complications from liver cancer. Following his death, Browne penned a touching tribute, writing, “He was a blues singer first, and he was so natural, and so soulful, that when he sang songs that were written in a major scale, he found all the most soulful and expressive passages through those changes.”
Browne will perform at the next two stops on the Laid Back Festival, which take place September 23rd at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut and September 24th at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Long Island, New York.