December 24, 2014

RIP George Allgood

On Nov. 25, my lifelong friend George Allgood came to my studio, and I made a recording with him. I have just learned he passed away Friday night, December 12, 17 days later. 

I'm exactly five months older than George; we met at the YMCA when we were about 9-years-old.  We were some of Kelly’s boys. We shared a lot of interests,including piano and ham radio. George gave me my Novice FCC license exam before either of us had a license to drive. He was a skilled radio operator. His call sign was K4PYM. In later years, when the FCC started giving “vanity” calls, he had his changed to his initials, W4GFA, and his wife Darla, a ham, too, took his old call and kept it in the family. His Morse Code speed was almost superhuman. He could copy about 40-to-45 words per minute. He did this in his head without writing anything down. When it came to sending, telegraph keys were too slow; he used a keyboard. He was a member of a group that called themselves “The Chicken Fat Society.”  They had to grease their keyboards with chicken fat, so their fingers could move fast enough. Sadly, in ham radio parlance George is now a “silent key.” 

George was an equally impressive musician. At the piano, we deconstructed Ray Charles songs. He played baritone in the Athens High School Band and was also a member of a group called “The Mark IV,” who played a lot of dances and parties.

Our interest in radio and music sort of naturally led us to an interest in broadcasting, and George soon found work as a disc jockey at Athens’ “Top 40” station, WDOL. He married young, and the quest for better pay led him to a station in Cartersville, GA. After a few months there, he was offered a better opportunity in Walhalla, SC at radio station WGOG. I believe my band trailer facilitated both of those moves. 

When I first went to work in Macon, before we became Capricorn, in fact while studio construction was underway, I produced a record for Billy Young, which was released on Bang Records, and George played piano on it. In about February of 1969 as the studio was becoming operational, he moved to Macon and took a job in the news department of radio station WMAZ, so he might be able to play sessions at the studio. (This was before Hornsby, Sandlin, Carr and Popwell arrived that summer, and about a month before Duane got there with what would become the Allman Brothers Band). However, George's then-wife decided after about two weeks she was going back to South Carolina. George turned in his notice at the radio station and went back too.  

 He left Walhalla one other time to return home to Athens and work as news director for WRFC from 1989-1992, and upon returning, he served as vice-president and general manager of WSNW in neighboring Seneca.

In Walhalla, George played country music with guitarist Jimmy Rogers at Melody Acres; he played solo in restaurants, and he played in his church. It was an album of hymns we recorded while he was at my studio. He was having them pressed for Christmas gifts.

I feel a great loss. The friends you keep that long are the really good ones. I'll miss you George. I'm so glad we got to make that recording. RIP my friend.