Surrealist VINCENT CASTIGLIA Memorializes GREGG ALLMAN In Portrait Painted With Late Musician's Own Blood; Video
September 7, 2017, 18 days ago
Rounder Records will release late music legend Gregg Allman's final studio album, Southern Blood, this Friday, September 8th. The deluxe package and first run of the vinyl will include a visually stunning, heartfelt painting that Allman and his daughter Layla Brooklyn commissioned from award-winning surrealist Vincent Castiglia. The beautiful portrait (based on a photograph by Neal Preston and pictured below) was painted with Allman's actual blood and the blood of his children - making for an extremely personal, one-of-a-kind, and everlasting tribute, and ultimately inspiring the title of the new album itself.
A limited edition numbered double-sided picture disc will be available at local record shops or with pre-orders of the album here.
Watch a special time-lapse video of Castiglia painting the portrait now, exclusively via Yahoo Music
"Southern Blood" isn't the first piece of Vincent Castiglia's art to be commissioned by Allman, but it is undoubtedly the most significant and impactful. On Christmas Eve of 2015 - after the idea was initially conceived by his daughter, Layla Brooklyn - Allman personally asked Castiglia if he would be interested in painting his portrait as album art for Southern Blood.
"I was completely blown away, and the proposal was met with an immediate and unequivocal YES. This is the single most important work I've ever painted, for two of the loveliest people I've had the opportunity to connect with in this life," says Castiglia.
After receiving the shipment of Allman's blood vials a few months later, the blood remained in Castiglia's refrigerator for the following year, only to be used after Allman's untimely passing. "When Gregg shipped me the vials of his blood, no one could have foreseen what was to come - that ultimately the painting wouldn't be created until his after his passing," adds Castiglia. "Painting Gregg's portrait in his and his children's blood, memorializing him posthumously, was one of the most emotively intense experiences."
Gregg Allman's daughter, Layla Brooklyn, says that the genesis of the Southern Blood portrait occurred when her father told her about a work of art he had commissioned, "Gravity", that utilized the artists' own blood. Layla Brooklyn was captivated by this process and needed to meet the man behind it - and thus, her friendship with Castiglia was born.
"After becoming friends with Vincent, I began entertaining the idea of a musician surrendering their own blood to his paintbrush," says Layla Brooklyn. "A few years ago, I invited him to the studio when my metal band was tracking sessions for a record that I didn't end up releasing. I tucked the art concept away. Upon listening to the early stages of my father's Muscle Shoals sessions, I knew this concept was perfect visual representation for what would be my father's last body of work on many levels. I introduced the two artists and suggested to my father he send Vincent vials of his own blood to save for his yet to be titled record. He did it, and nearly a year later, the title Southern Blood popped into my head to tie it all together. The story, the music, the painting and my dad's fight to keep playing music when he became ill represent his dedication, passion and contribution, not only in metaphorically giving his blood to the fans for decades, but literally. Our whole family is in awe of Vincent's expertise in capturing the spirit of his subjects and concepts using a monochromatic palette with a haunting twist. My father had penchant for collecting strange treasures in his travels and creating a uniquely beautiful ambiance with them. So, it comes as no surprise that Vincent's work found its way into his home and into our family."
Vincent Castiglia says that while one may assume this painting is important to him because of Allman's musical legacy, additionally and somewhat alternatively, it's because of the grassroots grit and unrelenting heart, soul, sincerity and integrity of the man himself. "Working with the very last of what was physically left of [Gregg] is just difficult to put into words. My immense respect for him and the project became palpable and was amplified exponentially as soon as I put brush to canvas. I was transforming his life force, his physicality, into his visage. And knowing this was his and his family's will and having them entrust me in this enormous and incommunicable way was just one of the greatest honors of my life, one which I'm so grateful to Gregg and the Allman family for.
Southern Blood serves as a remarkable final testament from an artist whose contributions have truly shaped rock & roll throughout the past four decades. Gregg Allman's first all-new recording since 2011's Grammy Award-nominated solo landmark, Low Country Blues, the album is among the most uniquely personal of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's career, an emotionally expansive collection of songs written by friends and favorite artists including Jackson Browne, Willie Dixon, Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter, Lowell George and Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn, meant to serve as a salutary farewell to his legion of devoted fans and admirers. Allman collaborated on his closing project with manager and dear friend Michael Lehman and Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was, a longtime acquaintance and staunch supporter committed to helping the rock icon actualize his very specific aspirations. Though his loss leaves a vast musical space that can never truly be filled, Southern Blood stands tall as a remarkable valedictory and memorial to a true giant of American music, now and forever.