It was 45 years ago today that we lost The Allman Brothers Band founding member …
Written by megarock on November 11, 2017
It was 45 years ago today that we lost The Allman Brothers Band founding member and bassist Berry Oakley. Berry was born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois, then moved to Florida where he met and joined Dickey Betts’s band, The Second Coming. He was a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with guitarist Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, who was the band’s vocalist and keyboardist, Dickey Betts on co-lead guitar, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, both on drums, congas, and the band’s percussionist.
On November 11, 1972, Berry was involved in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, just three blocks from where Duane Allman had his fatal motorcycle accident the year before. Oakley was driving around a sharp right bend of the road on Napier Avenue at Inverness when he crossed the line and collided at an angle with a city bus making the bend from the opposite direction. After striking the front and then the back of the bus, Oakley was thrown from his bike, just as Allman had been, and struck his head. Oakley said he was okay after the accident, declined medical treatment, and caught a ride home. Three hours later, he was rushed to the hospital, delirious and in pain, and died of cerebral swelling caused by a fractured skull. Attending doctors stated that even if Oakley had gone straight to the hospital from the scene of the accident, he could not have been saved.
In 1998, the Georgia state legislature passed a resolution designating a bridge on State Highway 19, in Macon, Georgia, as the ‘Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge’ in “honor and remembrance” of the late founding member of the Allman Brothers Band”.
RIP Berry. Thank you for the music.