Berry Oakley

There have been countless tragic deaths throughout the history of rock & roll, but few groups have had to endure as much tragedy as the Allman Brothers did during the early '70s. In just over a year, the Allmans lost two integral members under eerily similar circumstances when guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley died from motorcycle accidents. Born April 4, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois, Raymond Berry Oakley began as a lead guitarist, playing regularly in a local band, the Shanes, during the '60s. The group opened often for national acts, one such being Tommy Roe's backing band, the Roemans, with whom Oakley offered to stand in as a bassist (due the group's regular bassist being drafted). Although he didn't even own a bass at the time, Oakley persevered, dropped out of high school, and joined the Roemans full-time. But Oakley's stint with the band didn't last long, as he wound up in Florida, lending his talents to various beach bands. By the end of the decade, Oakley was invited by then-session guitarist Duane Allman to join a new group he was forming, but the bassist agreed to join only one condition -- that guitarist/friend Dickey Betts be included as well. An agreement was met, as Oakley, Betts, Allman, keyboardist/singer Gregg Allman, plus a pair of drummers, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johnson, formed the Allman Brothers Band.