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Berry Oakley

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Berry Oakley
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Berry Oakley III
Born(1948-04-04)April 4, 1948
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedNovember 11, 1972(1972-11-11) (aged 24)
Macon, Georgia, U.S.
GenresSouthern rock, blues, jam rock
Instrument(s)Bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Years active1964–1972
Formerly ofThe Allman Brothers Band

Raymond Berry Oakley III (April 4, 1948 – November 11, 1972) was an American bassist and one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. Known for his long, melodic bass runs, he was ranked number 46 on Bass Player magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time".[1] He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Allman Brothers Band in 1995.



Oakley was born in Chicago and raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois.[2] He then moved to Florida where he met and joined Dickey Betts' band, the Blues Messengers, later called Second Coming. He was a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with guitarists Betts and Duane Allman, singer and keyboardist Gregg Allman, and drummers and percussionists Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson.



Oakley's bass guitar, nicknamed "the Tractor Bass", was a Fender Jazz Bass with a Guild Bisonic bass pickup (manufactured by Hagström, a Swedish company).[3]

Death and tribute

Oakley with the Allman Brothers in 1972

On November 11, 1972, Oakley was involved in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, a mere three blocks away from where Duane Allman had his fatal motorcycle accident the year before. Oakley was riding 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 motorcycle, just as Allman had been, and struck his head. Oakley declined medical treatment after the accident 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.[4] He was 24 years old when he died, the same age as Duane Allman.

In 1998, the Georgia State Legislature passed a resolution designating a bridge on State Highway 19/U.S. Route 41 in Macon, Georgia, as the "Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge". At the same time, the road carried by the bridge was named Duane Allman Boulevard. The resolution stated that the names were designated "in honor and remembrance of the late founding members of the Allman Brothers Band."[5][6][7]



Contemporary albums

Retrospective live albums


  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time". bassplayer.com. NewBay Media. June 12, 2023.
  2. ^ Scott Freeman, Midnight Riders: The Story of The Allman Brothers Band, 1995, p. 36
  3. ^ Duane Allman and Berry Oakley interview with John Tiven of New Haven Rock Press, December 10, 1970
  4. ^ Paul, Alan (February 24, 2015). One Way Out. New York: Macmillan. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-250-04049-7. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Senator Brown; Georgia State Senate (March 12, 1998). "SR 653 Duane Allman and Berry Oakley III Bridge – designate". State of Georgia. Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
  6. ^ "Duane Allman Boulevard – Macon Music Trail". Macon Music Trail. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  7. ^ "Raymond Berry Oakley III Bridge – Macon Music Trail". Macon Music Trail. Retrieved February 20, 2020.