The Allman Brothers appearing on "Austin City Limits".
Photo courtesy of Allmanet.com
|Like the other artists I've profiled on this site, the Allman Brothers have an abiding love for the blues. Since this uniquely American art form was born in the South, it was only natural that Duane and Gregg Allman would eagerly embrace it. Like Robert Johnson and so many other musicians from the early days, these two brothers and their bandmates paid their dues. They also shared Johnson's wanderlust, touring constantly and playing their music for a wide audience. Therefore, it seems quite appropriate that standards such as "Statesboro Blues", "Stormy Monday", and "Crossroads" have been a regular part of their live sets from the very beginning of their career. Considering the litany of misfortunes which they've endured over the years, the Allman Brothers Band have a clear understanding of the blues. Return to the TABLE OF CONTENTS|
| The Allman Brothers Band are generally acknowledged to be the principal architects of the Southern rock sound. They developed an improvisational style, with long freeform jams that required significant musical prowess. Their success did not come easily, though. Reaching their stellar position took years of hard work. However, they faced every adversity with unflinching determination.|
Duane was born in Nashville in 1946 and his younger brother Gregg was born a year later. Although the brothers initially enjoyed a happy childhood, they were soon beset with tragedy. While on Christmas leave from the Army, their father was murdered by a hitchhiker. But they wouldn't allow this dreadful occurrence to adversely affect them. In the years to come, they turned to music for solace. After moving to Florida, the boys began playing with various local bands around Daytona Beach. By the time they formed The Allman Joys in 1965, "Crossroads" was a regular part of their set. After several failed musical projects in California, they relocated to Muscle Shoals, AL and recorded some demos at Fame Studios. Unfortunately, their record company had no interest in these songs and the brothers went home to Florida. Return to the TABLE OF CONTENTS
| In 1968, Duane returned to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals to record several songs with Wilson Pickett. This single soon began a steady rise in the pop charts and Duane was subsequently asked to play guitar on other sessions.During the session, Duane suggested that Pickett should cover "Hey Jude" by the Beatles.|
|Building on the momentum of their first LP, the band released their second album. By now, they were no longer just a Southern phenomenon and their live appearances had become legendary. But for all their triumphs, bad luck seemed to shadow the band. To avoid the draft, Gregg had shot himself in the foot. Then while on tour, they were arrested at an Alabama truck stop in 1971 on charges of marijuana and heroin possession. State troopers had noticed that some of the band members were behaving erratically. After a cursory search of their car, the officers found the illegal narcotics on the backseat. But although this was a major setback, the worst was yet to come. Return to the TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|Hoping to capitalize on their reputation as a live band, the Allman Brothers decided to release a concert album. In March of 1971, they recorded their performances at the Fillmore East in New York City. This landmark double album was released in July and eventually climbed all the way into the Top Ten. The music press lauded them with glowing reviews and it seemed as if there was no limit to their potential. But on October 29th of that year, the band was dealt a severe blow. While riding his motorcycle in Macon, Duane swerved to avoid a truck and lost control of the bike. He died as a result of his injuries. Then even before the band members had a chance to fully recover from this shock, bass guitarist Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident on November 11th, 1972. Strangely enough, this second accident occurred less than a mile from the scene of Duane's death. Although the surviving members decided to continue with new musicians, many of their fans feared that the original spirit of the band had been lost. Return to the TABLE OF CONTENTS|
| Although some observers may have assumed that the group's best days were behind them, they still had a few surprises left in store for their critics. Dickie Betts was responsible for writing "Ramblin' Man", which quickly became their most successful song. And of course, they continued to tour extensively. In July of 1973, they performed for more than half a million people at a huge concert in Watkins Glen, NY. However, tensions within the group were mounting, as addictions and rivalries began to have an effect on them. The lowest point for Gregg came in 1976, when he testified at the criminal trial of his former road manager, who had been charged with narcotics distribution. Allman's testimony was devastating and Scooter Herring was sentenced to seventy-five years in prison. The rest of the band felt that this was a cowardly act of betrayal by Gregg. They refused to work with him any longer, abruptly ending the band's career. But the music proved to be stronger than any grudges that the band members might hold towards each other.|
In January of 1977, Gregg and Dickie ran into each other at President Jimmy Carter's Inauguration. This chance meeting allowed them to settle their differences and the band reformed a few months later.
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