Creekside Mornings’ final hour sounded a little different on Jan. 9, 2024 for a very special reason: the 75th birthday of the late great Tommy Talton, who passed away Dec. 28, 2023 after a brave battle with cancer.
Talton was one of the most prolific guitarists and contributors to the southern rock movement birthed in Macon, and a central figure both musically and personally in a significant era of Capricorn Records according to the special’s featured guest, New York Times bestselling author and historian Alan Paul.
“He was a great guy, in all the ways that you would want someone to be,” Paul told co-hosts Sam Stephens, Anthony Ennis, and Wes Griffith during the morning show.
“He was smart, he was self-deprecating, he would make fun of other people in appropriate ways, not mean ways,” Paul joked. “He was funny and insightful, and always a pleasure to talk to and always happy to help out.”
Talton was a key source and the perfect objective informant for Paul’s latest book Brothers and Sisters: The Allman Brothers Band and the Inside Story of the Album That Defined the ’70s, which shines the spotlight on that defining season of the Allman Brothers’ history where the group’s Brothers and Sisters album cycle met both Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts’ respective solo efforts with more than a handful of challenges.
As Paul astutely observed, Talton’s inherent charm and enigmatic personality elevated his role far beyond music and straight into confidant and peacemaker for the band and their associates, especially during that time.
“It was a very turbulent time, as everyone knows,” Paul acknowledged. “Everyone’s personal lives were crazy and drug and alcohol abuse was rampant. Tommy did his own share of that, but it didn’t define him. He was a calm at the center of the storm . . . those guys are crucial. Part of what made Tommy so valuable and why he ended up on all those records and was so trusted. Like always in life, being a good hang is worth a lot. It’s really important.”
Talton’s playing was integral to the magic of Allman’s 1973 solo masterpiece Laid Back as well as Betts’ acclaimed solo debut Highway Call… not to mention ABB’s Brothers and Sisters and countless other albums, moments, and tours over the years. There wasn’t much coming out of Capricorn Records in its “heyday” that Talton didn’t touch.
Though a monumental musical breakthrough never quite came for him, whether solo or through his beloved Scott Boyer duo Cowboy, Talton’s love for writing, collaborating, and performing never faded. He continued to make albums and tour the world until the end of his life with gusto and pure drive. Even through a years-long battle with cancer that gradually took over his body, Talton’s spirit sustained, perhaps the most vital part of his incredible legacy.
“He never really complained about it [cancer],” Paul recalled. “He never got too self-involved. He remained himself in the essential ways, and I think even above and beyond music, that’s something we can all strive to do.”
The entire tribute hour is available to stream in the player above. For more thoughtful insight from author Alan Paul and music from Talton and the Capricorn gang, simply click “play” and enjoy.