Gregg Allman’s Estate Mourns the Loss of His Best Friend Hewell ‘Chank’ Middleton

by Caitlin Berard

Shortly after graduating high school, Hewell “Chank” Middleton was working as a shoe shiner when two brothers walked into the barbershop in which he worked. Their names were Gregg and Duane Allman, and they had just stepped in from the music studio next door hoping to cool down in the barbershop’s air conditioning.

A bond quickly formed between the three young men, Chank and Duane forming a particularly close friendship. Sadly, however, it wasn’t long before Duane’s unexpected, and all too young, passing at the age of 24 from a motorcycle crash. Following Duane’s death, Chank and Gregg bonded over the shared heart-wrenching loss and, from that day forward, were inseparable.

From 1971 onward, Chank and Gregg were the closest of friends. Tragedy struck once more, however, in 2017, when Gregg Allman died at the age of 69 after a difficult battle with liver cancer.

Early this morning, Gregg Allman’s estate shared the unfortunate news that Chank Middleton has now passed away as well. “It is with deep sadness to tell you that Gregg’s longtime and dearest friend Hewell “Chank” Middleton has passed away,” they wrote on Twitter.

“Gregg and Chank had a bond of brothers. Chank was by Gregg’s side on tour and in life since 1969. RIP Brother Chank.”

Chank Middleton Once Revealed the Song Gregg Allman Wrote for Him

In 1975, the Allman Brothers Band released the album Win, Lose, or Draw, containing a song by the same name. Years later, Gregg Allman’s close friend, Chank Middleton, revealed that the song was written about him. He even gave Gregg the starting point for the lyrics!

In a 2017 interview with Relix following the tragic loss of Gregg Allman, Middleton explained the song that held the most meaning for him was, of course, that very one. “It would have to be ‘Win, Lose or Draw,'” he said. “Because that’s the one he wrote about me. I was in prison for two years.”

“When I got out of prison in 1974, he hired me the same day,” he continued. “And [Gregg] moved me into his house in Macon. The second night we were in the house, he called me into the bedroom and said, ‘I got something I want you to hear’. So we go in the bedroom, he brings out the acoustic guitar and he plays a song. While he was singing it, it sounded like he had written it about me but I wasn’t sure.”

“When he got through it, he looks at me and goes, ‘Bro, I started writing this about you when you first went to prison. Now that you’re out, let’s revise it’. So I started telling him about the experiences I had, as far as being addicted to heroin, being locked up in county jail and going to prison, and the different things that had gone on in my life while I was in prison.”

“That’s what the song ended up being. ‘Win, Lose or Draw’ was always his, but he took words that came out of my mouth and turned them into poetry.”