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Berry Oakley

Background information
Birth name Raymond Berry Oakley III
Born April 4, 1948(1948-04-04)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died November 11, 1972 (aged 24)
Macon, Georgia, U.S.
Genres Rock, southern rock
Occupations Musician
Instruments Bass guitar, Vocals
Years active 1964 – 1972
Associated acts The Allman Brothers Band
Notable instruments
Fender Jazz Bass

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.



Oakley was born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois,[1] 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 second 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" 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. After Duane Allman's death, Berry became the band's de facto leader onstage and was generally credited with keeping the distraught members from disbanding. 


Oakley's bass guitar, nicknamed "The Tractor Bass", was a Fender Jazz Bass with a Hagström pickup.

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 corner on Napier Avenue when he crossed the line and collided with a bus. Oakley said he was okay after the accident, declined medical treatment, and went home. Three hours later, he was rushed to the hospital but died of cerebral swelling caused by a fractured skull.

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".[2]


His son, Berry Duane Oakley (aka Berry Oakley Jr.) is also a bass guitarist, and he has performed with groups such as Bloodline, OKB and Blue Floyd. He now tours with The Chuck Negron Band, former vocalist for Three Dog Night.


  1. ^ Scott Freeman, Midnight Riders: The Story of The Allman Brothers Band, 1995, p. 36
  2. ^ 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. 

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