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|Birth name||Raymond Berry Oakley, III|
April 4, 1948|
|Died||November 11, 1972
Macon, Georgia, United States
|Genres||Rock, southern rock|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, vocals|
|Associated acts||The Allman Brothers Band|
|Fender Jazz Bass|
Oakley was born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois, then moved to Florida where he met and joined Dickey Betts's band, The Second Coming. He was a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with guitarist Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, who was the band's vocalist and keyboardist, Dickey Betts on co-lead guitar, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson, both on drums, congas, and the band's percussionist.
With the Allman Brothers, Oakley was known for his long, melodic bass runs underneath Allman and Betts' furious guitar solos and jams. "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", "Mountain Jam" and "Whipping Post" from the live album At Fillmore East capture Oakley at his best. Oakley was also the band member most involved in establishing domestic unity among the band's extended family. When Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident, Oakley was devastated, according to drummer Butch Trucks. The band continued touring, but Oakley "lost his sparkle" and started drinking heavily during what was to become his last year in life.
Death and tribute
On November 11, 1972, Oakley was involved in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, just three blocks from where Duane Allman had his fatal motorcycle accident the year before. Oakley was driving around a sharp right bend of the road on Napier Avenue at Inverness when he crossed the line and collided at an angle with a city bus making the bend from the opposite direction. After striking the front and then the back of the bus, Oakley was thrown from his bike, just as Allman had been, and struck his head. Oakley said he was okay after the accident, declined medical treatment, and caught a ride home. Three hours later, he was rushed to the hospital, delirious and in pain, and died of cerebral swelling caused by a fractured skull. Attending doctors stated that even if Oakley had gone straight to the hospital from the scene of the accident, he could not have been saved.
In 1998, the Georgia state legislature passed a resolution designating a bridge on State Highway 19, in Macon, Georgia, as the 'Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge' in "honor and remembrance" of the late founding member of the Allman Brothers Band".
His son, Berry Duane Oakley (aka Berry Oakley Jr.) is also a bass guitarist; he has performed with artists such as Bloodline OKB, Blue Floyd, Billy Cobham, Edgar Winter, and Robby Krieger. Grandson Shaun Berry Oakley is a musician in training in Florida. Daughter Brittany's mother is Linda, with whom Berry resided in Macon, Georgia, at the time of his death. (Brittany's photo appeared on the back cover of the Allmans' 1973 Brothers and Sisters album.)
- Scott Freeman, Midnight Riders: The Story of The Allman Brothers Band, 1995, p. 36
- "The World According To Butch Trucks: A Strange Tale of Tragedy". Thebutchtrucks.blogspot.com. 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
- Duane Allman and Berry Oakley interview with John Tiven of New Haven Rock Press, December 10, 1970
- Senator Brown,; Georgia State Senate (March 12, 1998). "SR 653 Duane Allman and Berry Oakley III Bridge - designate". State of Georgia. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- The Hoochie Coochie Man - John Ogden
- Georgia House of Representatives SR653, designating Duane Allman Boulevard and Raymond Berry Oakley Bridge
- Account of the fatal accident