Kirk and Kirsten West play key role in Gregg Allman's history
If you're an Allman Brothers fan, the name Kirk West may be familiar.
He and his wife have worked to make sure the legacy and the stories of the "Midnight Rider" will live on for quite some time.
Kirk West says he began his career as a photographer.
"Throughout the '70s and '80s, that's what I did -- make a living shooting concerts," he recalled. "That was the time that I got to know the band really well."
And he documented them every step of the way.
Kirk displays his work at a gallery on Third Street in Macon.
He hung out with the guys so much, eventually, they offered him another job opportunity in the early '90s.
"They hired a freelance young guy to be the tour manager and he didn't know the band, so he thought if he talked loud, he could get Dickey and Gregg to move faster," he said with a chuckle.
That didn't go over too well, so the guy with a big beard and a bigger heart took over.
He worked as a tour manager for 20 years.
Before the Big House became a museum, 2321 was Kirsten and Kirk's home address, the same house where the Allmans lived in back in the '70s.
And in true Allman form, if folks showed up, chances are they'd open the door and invite them on in.
"We would have nice respectable Japanese tourists standing here at the door at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning," Kirk said.
Eventually, Kirk and Kirsten started a foundation, raised money, and turned the home into what it is today.
In many ways, it's come full circle -- Kirk is now back to shooting photos in his retirement and cranking out books that chronicle a rich music history.
"I spend the better half of my adult life working for or following behind the band," he explained. "I didn't sign up to work with the Allman Brothers because I wanted to be their friends. I signed up because I was dedicated to the music they created that they made and I was such a fan, and for me to have the opportunity to have the impact to shape and huge this thing that they have, it was one of the joys of my life."
Kirk says he has a new book coming out in the fall called "The Blues in Black and White."
Here is a link to the Big House Museum : http://www.thebighousemuseum.com/
Here is a link to Kirk's photography page: http://www.kirkwestphotography.com/