Raymond Berry Oakley III, a founding member and the heart and soul of The Allman Brothers Band, was born on April 4, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois. He was far more than an essential part of the the rhythm engine of the band. His remarkable ability to create a melodic musical dance with the innovatively imaginative solos and jams laid out by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts created a synergy that was a defining characteristic of their unique sound. His bass, a Fender Jazz with a Guild pickup was nicknamed “The Tractor” and there wasn’t a territory of their musical landscape that he he didn’t plow, cultivate and carefully grow. His indelible influence went far beyond his musical talent. He was a “brother” in the truest sense of the word and always pushed for unity between the families of each band member.
Sadly, Berry was killed on November 11, 1972 in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, only three blocks from where a similar accident took the life of his bandmate Duane Allman just one year earlier. Following Duane’s passing Berry never regained his enthusiasm, the sunshine that he had bestowed on the band, urging progress and spreading the warmth of positive energy. It is not only for his immense contribution to music that we miss Berry Oakley, but more importantly we grieve the loss of a truly great soul. Rest in peace brother Berry!