Who was Elizabeth Reed, the woman immortalized beautifully in the Allman Brothers song?
Not somebody that the Allman Brothers ever met, or even knew anything about–other than that she was dead. Elizabeth Reed Napier, born November 9, 1845, was a Southern belle who came to Macon, Georgia to attend Wesleyan College; she died in 1935. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” originally on the album Idlewild South, is a lovely, intricate instrumental by guitarist Dickey Betts, who spent a lot of time sitting and writing in the Macon graveyard, where he saw Elizabeth Reed’s name. The song was actually inspired by a living girl–but because she was Boz Scaggs’s girlfriend, Betts couldn’t use her name. “Some writer once asked me how I wrote the song and Duane [Allman] said, ‘Aw, he fucked some girl across the tombstone,'” Betts said. “You can imagine how the girl I wrote it for felt after that.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)