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Touring And Recording Helps ''Union'' Contributor Recover From Surgery

Tuesday 5 July 2011 @ 17:30 - GMT

The Gregg Allman Band kicked off a European mini-tour at London's Barbican Center Friday, before they head home next month for a lengthy tour of the United States and Canada.

The backbone of their set is a series of songs from the album Low Country Blues, Gregg's first record for 14 years.

It was released in February to critical acclaim and commercial success to match, debuting at No. 7 in the U.S. Billboard chart.

Diagnosed with hepatitis C and advised he needed a new liver, Allman decided to go into the studio to record an album of songs by his blues heroes, before going under the surgeon's knife in June last year.

With award-winning producer/guitarist T-Bone Burnett at the helm, the result is a no-frills collection of classics by the likes of B.B. King and Muddy Waters. The vocalist also worked with T-Bone when he contributed to Elton and Leon Russell's album, The Union.

The 63-year-old, who co-founded the Allman Brothers Band with his brother Duane in 1969, says music was a consolation during his traumatic health problems before and since his transplant surgery.

"It was a great feeling to have a real good record in the can," he notes, calling the operation the most horrendous pain he'd ever encountered. He still has pain and will need more treatment, but is thrilled to be alive.

As part of his musical therapy, he went on a brief tour with Elton and Leon four months after the operation.

He remarks, "It was good and it got me out of the house."