Berry Oakley

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Berry Oakley
Berry Oakley.jpg
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Berry Oakley, III
Born(1948-04-04)April 4, 1948
Chicago, Illinois
DiedNovember 11, 1972(1972-11-11) (aged 24)
Macon, Georgia, United States
GenresRock, southern rock
InstrumentsBass guitar, guitar, vocals
Years active1964–1972
Associated acts The Allman Brothers Band

Raymond Berry Oakley III (April 4, 1948 – November 11, 1972), was an American bassist and one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. He is ranked number 46 on Bass Player magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time". [1]

The Allman Brothers Band American rock/blues band

The Allman Brothers Band was an American rock band formed in Jacksonville, FL, in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman and Gregg Allman, as well as Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson (drums). The band incorporated elements of Southern rock, blues, jazz, and country music, and their live shows featured jam band-style improvisation and instrumentals.



Oakley was born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois, [2] 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 guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, singer and keyboardist Gregg Allman, and drummers and percussionists Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson.

Park Forest, Illinois Village in Illinois, United States

Park Forest is a village located south of Chicago in Cook and Will counties, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 21,975. Park Forest is bordered by Olympia Fields to the north, Chicago Heights to the east, University Park to the south, and Richton Park and Matteson to the west.

Dickey Betts American guitarist, singer and songwriter

Forrest Richard Betts known as Dickey Betts, is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and composer best known as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.

Duane Allman American musician

Howard Duane Allman was an American guitarist, session musician, and founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band.

Oakley was known for his long, melodic bass runs that formed a throbbing foundation underneath Allman and Betts' furious guitar solos and jams. "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", "Mountain Jam" and "Whipping Post" from the live album At Fillmore East capture Oakley at his best. Oakley was also the band member most involved in establishing domestic unity among the band's extended family. When Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971, Oakley was devastated.

"In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" is a song by the American group the Allman Brothers Band. It first appeared on their second studio album, Idlewild South (1970), released on Capricorn Records. The song—a jazz-influenced instrumental—was written by guitarist Dickey Betts, among his first songwriting credits for the group. Betts named the song after a headstone he saw in Rose Hill Cemetery in the band's hometown of Macon, Georgia. Multiple versions of the song have been recorded, with the version performed on the group's 1971 live album At Fillmore East generally considered the definitive rendition.

"Mountain Jam" is an improvised instrumental jam by The Allman Brothers Band. The song's first known recording is on May 4, 1969 at Macon Central Park. "Mountain Jam" was originally released on the 1972 Eat a Peach album, as recorded at the Fillmore East concert hall, in March 1971 during the same sessions that produced their prior live double album At Fillmore East. That is the rendition that is best known.

"Whipping Post" is a song by The Allman Brothers Band. Written by Gregg Allman, the five-minute studio version first appeared on their 1969 debut album The Allman Brothers Band. The song was regularly played live and was the basis for much longer and more intense performances. This was captured in the Allman Brothers' 1971 double live album At Fillmore East, where a 22-minute rendition of the song takes up the entire final side. It was this recording that garnered "Whipping Post" spots on both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list and Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".


Oakley's bass guitar, nicknamed "The Tractor Bass", was a Fender Jazz Bass with a Guild bass pickup (manufactured by Hagström, a Swedish company). [3]

Fender Jazz Bass

The Jazz Bass is the second model of electric bass created by Leo Fender. It is distinct from the Precision Bass in that its tone is brighter and richer in the midrange and treble with less emphasis on the fundamental frequency. It has a more focused tone than the Precision Bass, with less low end and low midrange. The sound of the Jazz Bass has been fundamental in the development of signature sounds in certain musical genres, such as funk, disco, reggae, blues, progressive rock, heavy metal and jazz fusion. The body shape is also different from the Precision Bass, in that the Precision Bass has a symmetrical lower bout on the body, designed after the Telecaster and Stratocaster lines of guitars, while the Jazz Bass has an offset lower bout, mimicking the design aesthetic of the Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars.

Guild Guitar Company United States-based guitar manufacturer

The Guild Guitar Company is a United States-based guitar manufacturer founded in 1952 by Alfred Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company. The brand name currently exists as a brand under Córdoba Music Group.

Hagström company

Hagström is a musical instrument manufacturer in Älvdalen, Dalecarlia, Sweden. Their original products were accordions that they initially imported from Germany and then Italy before opening their own facility in 1932. During the late 1950s, the company started making electric guitars and later amplifiers. The early guitars were heavily influenced by the accordion production and had a special look and feel. Hagström were the first company to mass-produce 8 string bass guitars as well as the first to build a guitar/synthesizer hybrid. The company ceased production in 1983. In 2004 the brand was resurrected and is now in production in China. In 2008 Hagström expanded their line of products and launched their own line of basses including a re-issue of their famous Hagström H8, an 8 string bass.

Death and tribute

On November 11, 1972, Oakley 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. [4] He was 24 years old when he died, the same age as his bandmate.

Macon, Georgia Consolidated city–county in Georgia, United States

Macon, officially Macon–Bibb County, is a consolidated city-county located in the state of Georgia, United States. Macon lies near the geographic center of the state, approximately 85 miles (137 km) south of Atlanta, hence the city's nickname "The Heart of Georgia."

Traumatic brain injury condition caused by an external force which has traumatically injured the brain

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as intracranial injury, occurs when an external force injures the brain. TBI can be classified based on severity, mechanism, or other features. Head injury is a broader category that may involve damage to other structures such as the scalp and skull. TBI can result in physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death.

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". [5]

Georgia State Route 19 highway in Georgia

State Route 19 (SR 19) is a 152-mile-long (245 km) state highway that travels southeast-to-northwest through portions of Bacon, Jeff Davis, Appling, Telfair, Wheeler, Laurens, Twiggs, Bibb, and Monroe counties in the central part of the U.S. state of Georgia. The highway travels from its southern terminus at US 1/US 23/SR 4 north of Alma to its northern terminus at US 41/SR 18 in Forsyth. It also travels through Hazlehurst, Lumber City, Dublin, and Macon.


He is survived by his sister, Candace Rose Oakley, his widow Linda Diane Oakley Miller [6] and daughter, Brittany Ann Oakley (whose photo appeared on the back cover of the Allmans' 1973 album, "Brothers and Sisters"). His son, Berry Duane Oakley (aka Berry Oakley Jr.) was born in March 1973.


The Allman Brothers Band

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  1. "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time". NewBay Media.
  2. Scott Freeman, Midnight Riders: The Story of The Allman Brothers Band, 1995, p. 36
  3. Duane Allman and Berry Oakley interview with John Tiven of New Haven Rock Press, December 10, 1970
  4. Paul, Alan (24 Feb 2015). One Way Out. New York: Macmillan. p. 192. ISBN   978-1-250-04049-7 . Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  5. Senator Brown,; Georgia State Senate (March 12, 1998). "SR 653 Duane Allman and Berry Oakley III Bridge – designate". State of Georgia. Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
  6. Ramati, Phillip (2009), Remembering the Allman Brothers Band: The road goes on forever, Phillip Ramati for The (Macon, Ga) Telegraph newspaper: republished by McClatchy DC, retrieved November 18, 2017