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Allman Brothers Band

This is one of my all-time favorite bands.  I’ve listened to The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East more times than any other album (and disc 2 much more than disc 1).  The above song, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, is my all-time favorite rock instrumental.  The version was recorded on September 23, 1970 at Fillmore East, one of four shows used for the album.  The album version came from a different night, and I like that one even better. The album was produced by Tom Dowd — see the post Two Films you Should See for more about Tom Dowd.

The band was formed by Duane (guitar) and Gregg (keyboards and vocals) Allman in Jacksonville, Florida in 1969.  They immediately attracted attention as a band with two outstanding lead guitarists — Duane Allman and Richard “Dickey” Betts.  The Elizabeth Reed video above showcases their abilities, starting with a duet and featuring solos from both of them.  Their musical style and excellent playing eventually made them the godfathers of Southern rock.

Their song Revival was my speaker test song.  In college I had to move back and forth between my parents’ house and school.  After setting up my equipment, Revival was the first song I would play, to make sure the first guitar solo came out of the left speaker and the second one out of the right ( I think it was left first — it’s been way too long  ;-)).  The song is a great example of their tight ensemble playing, without the extended solos of the Fillmore album:

Sadly, Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in October 1971, a month before his 25th birthday and shortly after the Fillmore album was released.  The band’s next album, Eat a Peach, was the last that Duane played on, including Mountain Jam from the Fillmore concerts, and this beautiful acoustic duet with Dickey Betts, Little Martha:

Duane Allman also had a diverse career as a studio musician, particularly at Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama, where he worked with soul music legends like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.  This video of Push Push by Herbie Mann is for a song Duane played on – light jazz that got some airplay on FM radio on its release.  Of particular interest is the video’s slideshow of album covers and concert posters, of both the various bands led by Duane and Gregg, and of albums Duane played on.

As I write this (December 2011), the band is still making music.  Of the six band members in the Elizabeth Reed video above, Gregg Allman and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson are still there.  The two lead guitarists are now Derek Trucks (Butch’s nephew) and Warren Haynes.  Dickie Betts left the band in 2000, and now fronts his band Great Southern.  See this chronology for a history of the band’s members and albums, and the band’s website to check on current shows and other activities.