Greg Allman’s Silent Struggle
by J. Rentilly March 3, 2012, 04:00 am EST
Tune in to Hep CMusic legend Greg Allman
In 1999, rock music’s favorite “Midnight Rider” was given a health diagnosis that a decade later nearly sent him forever into that good night. Grammy Award-winning music legend Gregg Allman had contracted hepatitis C, a virus that leads to liver inflammation.
A year after his successful liver transplant, and the 64-year-old Allman is now alive and thriving—the recent recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, creator of Low Country Blues, a top-5 rock album, and author of My Cross to Bear, out May 1.
But many who receive the same diagnosis are not so lucky. Which is why Allman—along with fellow musicians Natalie Cole and Jon Secada—has teamed with TuneInToHepC.com, which aims to provide simple, direct support and information to hep C sufferers and their families.
Men’s Health: Did your struggle with hepatitis C inspire you to pen your memoir?
Greg Allman: I’m a pretty private person, and would always joke that if I wrote a book about my life it would need sequels because of all the tales that haven’t been told. Honestly, I never thought I’d be writing a memoir, until I was in a fight for my life battling chronic hepatitis C. It was then that I started reflecting and realized that with the good, the bad, and the funny, people might get something from hearing my stories. When you go through something like hep C, you really do some soul searching looking back but also forward on where you want to go. My life’s been a real roller coaster ride, but I’ll tell you it’s been a thrilling one.
Men’s Health: You were diagnosed with hep C in 1999, but didn’t do much to treat yourself right away. That’s the tricky thing about hep C—it doesn’t feel so bad until things are really, really bad, right? What do we need to know?
Greg Allman: First thing to know is that the people around you will want to know and will want to help you. The second thing, which I didn’t learn so quickly, is that doing nothing is not an option. For people who are diagnosed today, we know a lot more about the virus and its treatment then we did then, so you need to talk your doctor about what’s right for you—don’t put it off. Just because you don’t feel anything, doesn’t mean the virus isn’t doing anything to you. For me, I waited and it caused major damage to my liver.
Men’s Health: What were your initial thoughts and reactions upon receiving your diagnosis?
Greg Allman: When I first found out I had the disease, I just didn’t know that much about it. It was a little overwhelming, and I knew that it would be a long road ahead. I didn’t want it to hold me back from my music, but eventually for a short time it did—but fortunately, I got through it and am back in action. Fact is, the situation is different for people who are diagnosed today. We know more. Doctors know more. I’m lucky; today my health is real good, and other people (with hep C) are lucky because today we know that it’s not good to just wait around for this virus to catch up to you.
Men’s Health: Tell me about the impact of hep C in your life—short-term and long-term, including the liver transplant. How did it affect your ability to live well, play music, be the man you’d been?
Greg Allman: After going through what I did, I think I look at life differently. I know that I’m lucky to be here. For me, it’s always been about the music and even through my challenges with chronic hep C, I’ve pushed on as much as I could with my music. I’ve always appreciated what we’ve got, but today some things are even more special.
Men’s Health: Tell me about the Tune In benefit concert. How does music connect for you with the hep C journey and the Tune In mission?
Greg Allman: Music is so much a part of every journey for me and without a doubt it’s been a part of my disease journey. I’ve played at the Beacon Theatre in New York with the Brothers every year for the last 20 years—except one year when I was too sick to play. I think because of that, it was so significant for me to come back there and play the Tune In to Hep C benefit concert last July…. The money from that concert has already gone to use in communities across the country to help others dealing with Hep C. It was a night to remember, and I’m hoping we’ll do it again—when we are I’ll let you know.
Men’s Health: If there’s one song that best tells your life story, what is that song?
Greg Allman: It’s hard to pick just one song. All of my songs say something about where I was at different points of my life. I think that’s the best part about my music and music in general—it really takes you on a journey through time and reveals a lot about where you are at that time. I think that maybe that’s why my new album, Low Country Blues, which I recorded after my transplant, was so strong and came out in the top 5—it had so much passion in it and so did I.
____________________ "I'm hung up on dreams I'll never see."
Karma: Posts: 1 (1 all sites) Registered: 5/9/2012 Status: Offline
posted on 5/9/2012 at 08:57 PM
Great Article! Thanks for posting. I can relate to much of what Gregory is saying, havingfollowed a similar path with the HEPC, and still fighting it! ...Still hoping to save my factory liver! Thakns again! Anytime I hear the wisdom of a survivor it gives me and many others much strength!
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