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Say Hello 2 Heaven Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman

I hopped in the back of pick-up truck and sped toward Manhattan for the much anticipated Guns N' Roses concert. We had just finished our shifts at IHOP and two of the waitresses had changed out of their blue plaid frocks into fishnet tights and black leather jackets. Their lips were painted ruby red and their friends provided the transportation along with a case of beer. One of my fellow refugees was not going for Guns, he was going to see the opening band Soundgarden. He had on a Badmotorfinger t-shirt that was well worn.

Chris Cornell performs in 1992.

That concert was my introduction to Soundgarden and the emerging Seattle music scene. I can still hear Chris Cornell shake the walls of Madison Square Garden as my neck snapped back and forth with each passing rocker chick who left nothing to my teenage imagination. I would hear that same booming voice again some years later when Audioslave played atop the marquee of The Late Show with David Letterman  and shook the neighboring building were I worked 32 stories above.

News of Chris Cornell's passing was shocking. He was the beacon that led the way for the tumultuous talent in flannel shirts who occupied the nation from coast to coast for more than a decade. Chris Cornell had a voice. Not only to shake the concrete walls where he performed, but also to carry the beleaguered hearts of his generation. His lament for the loss of his friend Andrew Wood on the Temple of the Dog album is eerie as it is a fitting eulogy for himself: There's just one thing left to be said, Say hello to heaven.

There's Nobody Left to Run With Anymore

With zero time to comprehend the loss of Chris Cornell, we were hit with the passing of Gregg Allman. I've lost count of how many Allman Brothers shows I've seen and how transported I was at each one across each state I visited. There is one show that stands out. It was not due to the sheer power of Gregg Allman's voice, rather it was due to its absence.

Gregg Allman and Cher circa 1975.

It was late morning in the summer of 1995 when my phone rang. My friend broke the news that Jerry Garcia had passed. I met my friend at our familiar spot and friends dropped by at various times to grieve the loss along with us. We went to the Allman Brothers show that night at Jones Beach where the crowd was in a somber mood. 

The Allman Brothers took the stage and Dickey Betts addressed the crowd by saying, "We lost a brother today." It soon became apparent that Gregg Allman had lost his voice, so the band played many of the songs Dickey sang including Ramblin Man which they had retired after its chart topping success. The Black Crowes were in town and the Robinson brothers joined the band for a spirited rendition of Southbound. Gregg did manage to to sing No One to Run With that featured a montage of fallen musicians with the recently added Jerry Garcia. 

As I look at my music shelf, a good percentage of it comprises Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman records. The impact these musicians had on my life can be measured in decades. I take comfort in knowing they left behind many recordings and I imagine the choir of angels has gotten even better.    

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