Friday, January 11, 2008

In memory of Elizabeth Reed

A few weeks ago I wrote about and posted a few photos from Rose Hill Cemetery, located on the banks of the Ocmulgee River in Macon, Georgia.

I took well over a hundred photos of gravesites, and promised to share more here on The Taper.

During the 1970s, The Allman Brothers Band, along with many other "southern rock" bands of the era, including The Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie, were based in Macon. They recorded on Phil Walden's Capricorn Records label, which was located on Cotton Avenue.

Two original members of the band — guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley — died in Macon. Allman died in Oct. 1971 and Oakley in Nov. 1972, both in motorcycle accidents just three blocks apart.

Both men are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

I visited their graves a few times many, many years ago, when you could walk right up to them. The throng of tourists over the years specifically to see their tombstones has led to fencing and a stairway being added recently. In the old days, it wasn't unusual to see tributes of flowers in Boone's Farm wine bottles and guitar picks laid upon the graves. Today, a large metal fence keeps you from getting close enough to touch the graves.

Etched into the graves are guitars and the mushroom symbol The Allman Brothers used on their albums during the 1970s.

At the foot of Allman's grave is etched this sentiment: "I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to whoever will take it... seek knowledge from those wiser and teach those who wish to learn from me."

At the foot of Oakley's grave it says: "Help thy brothers boat across and lo! Thine own has reached the shore!"

Interestingly, the title of the instrumental song "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," composed by band member Dickey Betts, was inspired by a headstone in Rose Hill Cemetery, located not far from the Wolihin Masonic Monument I wrote about earlier. The song appears on the band's 1970 studio album Idlewild South, and their 1971 live album Live at Fillmore East.

Elizabeth Reid (note the spelling difference) was the infant daughter of Neel Reid, an architect who designed over 30 houses, many of them now famous, in Macon and Atlanta. He was also the architect for much of the original village of manors and cottages in Asheville, N.C. He died in 1926, one year after his daughter.

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  1. I just wanted to make a comment about this as I have recently visited this Cemetary and decided to look up some things about it after my visit. The picture you have of Elizabeth Reid is actually not the grave refered to in the Allman Brothers song. There is a grave, ironically very close to where D. Allman and Oakley are buried, where Elizabeth Reed is buried and the inspiration for the song.

  2. I believe you are right Ratman. I visited the cemetery in 1976 and ran across the same grave. It was strange, I was leaving Duane's site and of all the graves out there, my head turned at the right moment and I spotted Elizabeth Reed's grave! What is more interesting is that the band premiered the song, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", on March 13, 1970. March 13 is my birthday!

  3. Have a read:


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