The late Gregg Allman’s final studio album, Southern Blood, is set for release September 8 — and the deluxe package and first run of the vinyl will include something extra special. Allman and his daughter Layla Brooklyn commissioned a portrait from award-winning surrealist Vincent Castiglia…painted with Allman’s actual blood, and the blood of his children.
Yahoo Music is excited to exclusively premiere a time-lapse video of Castiglia painting the portrait, which shows both his extraordinary skill and his care for the subject.
The plans for the portrait were sealed On Christmas Eve of 2015: After the idea was initially conceived by Brooklyn, Allman 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,” recalls Castiglia. “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.”
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,” the artist notes. “Painting Gregg’s portrait in his and his children’s blood, memorializing him posthumously, was one of the most emotively intense experiences.”
Allman’s daughter says that her idea for the portrait came about when her father told her about a work of art he had commissioned that utilized the artists’ own blood. Captivated by this story, Brooklyn met Castiglia and became friends with him.
“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,” she says. “Upon listening to the early stages of my father’s Muscle Shoals sessions, I knew [the blood portrait concept] was a perfect visual representation for what would be my father’s last body of work on many levels.
“I 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.”