The Matheson Museum of History hosts a talk by Bob Petty Alman Brothers

Whether it was fate or chance, author Bob Petty said it was a creepy, wonderful, full-circle moment when he finished his new book, which focuses on Duane Allman, on the 50th anniversary of the music legend’s death.

What was certainly no coincidence was that Gainesville was the first stop on his writing tour around Florida.

Petty gave his presentation Wednesday evening at the Matheson Museum of History in front of a crowd of about 40. During the talk, he discussed the process of writing his new book, which was published this month titled Play All Night!: Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East.

Duane Allman was one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers, one of the most popular bands of the early 1970s. The group was among the most important pioneers of the southern rock genre and one of the oldest notable jam bands.

Beatty also spoke about the history of ABB, the legacy of their seminal 1971 album “At Fillmore East” and Duane Allman’s death months later at the age of 24. Other locations on his itinerary are Winter Park, Lakeland, home to Stewart and Miami.

Betty’s parents were UF students who raised him as a thirsty alligator, he said. Although he lives in Nashville, Tennessee, he said he maintains a deep fondness for Gainesville, which is also a few dozen miles from ABB’s founding place in Jacksonville.

“I am really happy to be in Gainesville doing my first talk about this book,” he said, “because of what this city means to my family.”

The book is the product of Betty’s ardent fan of ABB, whose music has captivated him for decades.

“It was the music that completely captured my soul,” he said. “My approach to music is almost strange to some people because it is so profound.”

Petty, a historian who has worked with museums and published a lot of writing throughout his career, said this latest project presented the unique challenge of having, as he described it, to “admirers” aside. The book’s introduction begins with an immediate acknowledgment of bias towards ABB, which ranks it among the greatest bands of all time.

“I think the best thing you have to do is acknowledge your biases, admit what they are, and do your best to shape something that considers them,” he said. “I owned it up front, I had to find a way not to look quite like a fan.”

Caitlin Hoff Mahoney, CEO of Matheson, said she was excited to host the event after reading Betty’s work.

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“When we got to look at Bob’s book, he had just done a really great job of sharing their story,” she said.

Petty’s talk goes hand-in-hand with the museum’s current exhibit Back Forever: The Great Southern Music Hall in Gainesville, which focuses on the venue for local concerts that popped up in the 1970s. Huff Mahoney noted the pride the Gainesville citizens had in the city’s deep cultural history.

“People in Gainesville and this area really enjoy music history,” she said. “It’s just something that’s really part of the fabric of our society and people are really excited and excited about it.”

In attendance was 69-year-old retired Kenny Jones, who said he learned things he never knew despite being a huge fan of ABB and was himself a player in southern rock, the band’s signature genre.

“It was awesome,” he said. “This guy mentioned some things I’ve never seen before, pictures I’ve never seen before, facts I’ve never heard of.”

David Hammer, 68, who was also in the audience, said the whole crowd was mesmerized throughout the Beatty show.

He said: “Tonight’s talk was wonderful.” “I was concerned that Bob kept saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to let you go, I’m going to let you go.'” “This crowd was going to stay another hour.”

Contact Ben Crosbie at Follow him on Twitter @benHcrosbie.

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