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All About The Allman Brothers Band

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Forty years after their recording debut, there is still no other American group quite like those venerable Southern Rock icons known as The Allman Brothers Band. Considered to be one of rock's best live acts, the group continues touring to this day - regularly appearing at packed houses and massive festivals.

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First formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1969, The Allman Brothers Band's original lineup of founding members consisted of the following:

Howard "Duane" Allman (slide and lead guitar), (November 20, 1946 - October 29, 1971, Nashville, Tennessee) - a blues lead guitarist and session musician. Allman is best remembered for his slide guitar, improvisational skills and most importantly -- for his brief but influential tenure in the band that he helped co-found.

Gregory "Gregg" Lenoir Allman (vocals, organ), (born December 8, 1947, Nashville, Tennessee) - younger brother to Duane; rock and blues singer, keyboardist, guitarist and songwriter.

Forrest Richard "Dickey" Betts (guitar, vocals), (born December 12, 1943, West Palm Beach, Florida) - guitarist, singer, and songwriter; brought a blues and Country sound to the mix.

Raymond Berry Oakley III (bass), (April 4, 1948 - November 11, 1972, Chicago, Illinois) - bassist who was raised in the suburb of Park Forest, Illinois.

Claude Hudson "Butch" Trucks (drums), (born May 11, 1947, Jacksonville, Florida) - drummer with roots in classical and Gospel music.

"Jaimoe" Jai Johanny Johanson (drums), (born July 8, 1944, Ocean Springs, Mississippi as John Lee Johnson) - drummer and percussionist with a background in jazz.

Two important events occurred early in Duane and Gregg Allman's lives that ultimately would determine the direction of their careers. The first event occurred in 1959 when the boys were in Nashville visiting relatives and decided to attend a rock 'n' roll concert. After hearing blues artist B. B. King perform, both brothers promptly fell under the spell of his music. Gregg recalls that Duane turned to him and said, "we got to get into this." The defining event came shortly thereafter in 1960. After hearing a neighbor playing country music standards on an acoustic guitar, Gregg was inspired to learn to play the guitar. Motivated by Gregg's example, older brother Duane decided to follow his lead. Gregg has been quoted as saying that after Duane started playing the guitar, "he... passed me up like I was standing still."

Forming a number of small, local groups, the brothers started playing publicly in 1961 as The Escorts. Shortly thereafter, Duane quit high school to stay home during the day and focus on his guitar playing. The Escorts eventually evolved into the Allman Joys. After Gregg graduated from Seabreeze High School in 1965, the Allman Joys hit the road to perform throughout the Southeastern U.S. The band eventually chose Nashville and St. Louis as their base, but had little success.

In early 1967, The Allman Joys relocated to Los Angeles, California, and were signed to Liberty Records, which renamed them The Hour Glass (another not-quite-successful band). Completely ignoring the band's desire to play more blues-oriented material, Liberty tried to market them as a pop band. The Hour Glass produced two albums; however, all the players - Duane in particular - were completely dissatisfied with the results. After the second album, The Hour Glass broke up and Duane wanted to return to the South. Since Liberty Records believed that Gregg might have commercial potential as a solo act, the company agreed to release Duane and the rest of group from their contract and let them leave - on the condition that Gregg stay in California to continue recording. Duane left his brother in L.A. and went south to Alabama to play as a session musician at F.A.M.E. Studios in Muscle Shoals.

In 1968, Gregg traveled to visit Duane on his brother's 22nd birthday. Since Duane was sick in bed with a fever, Gregg brought along a bottle of Coricidin pills for his brother's fever and a birthday gift of the debut album by guitarist Taj Mahal. "About two hours after I left, my phone rang," Gregg states. It was Duane, who said, "Baby brother, baby brother, get over here now!" Gregg returned to find that after pouring out the pills and washing off the label, Duane was using the empty pill bottle as a slide to play "Statesboro Blues," (a cut from the Taj Mahal album) on his guitar. "Duane had never played slide before," says Gregg, "he just picked it up and started burnin'. He was a natural." The song would go on to become a part of the Allman Brothers Band's repertoire, and Duane's slide guitar became crucial to their sound.

The limits of full-time session playing at Muscle Shoals frustrated Duane. Fortunately, the few months spent there were by no means a waste - in addition to meeting great artists and other industry professionals, Duane also rented a small, secluded cabin on a lake where he spent many solitary hours perfecting his playing. Perhaps most significantly, at F.A.M.E. Duane hooked up with R&B and jazz drummer "Jaimoe Johanson who came at the urging of Duane's manager Phil Walden (former manager of the late Otis Redding). Walden wanted to build a three-piece band around Duane, so along with Jaimoe, Duane persuaded bassist Berry Oakley to come up from Florida and jam with them as a trio. Unfortunately, Berry had a previous commitment to the Second Coming (his rock band with guitarist Dickey Betts) and had to return south.

Some of the artists whose recordings Duane played guitar on included Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Otis Rush, Ronnie Hawkins, Arthur Conley, Lulu, Herbie Mann, Boz Scaggs, John Hammond, Delaney & Bonnie, and Derek & The Dominos.

In March, Duane took Jaimoe with him back to Jacksonville, Florida, where they both moved in with Butch Trucks. Soon these three were jamming along with Betts, Oakley, and Reese Wynans when something almost magical took place and a special bond was forged among everyone present. Gregg, who was still in California fulfilling his Hour Glass obligation, was increasingly miserable working for Liberty Records. In March 1969 when Duane called him from Jacksonville to say that he had assembled a band that needed a singer, Gregg jumped at the opportunity. In addition to singing, Gregg learned that he would also be replacing Wynans on keyboards. (Wynans went on to later fame as an organist with Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble.) Gregg, who had long wanted to play the Hammond Organ, was given one immediately upon joining the band. Needless to say, he had to learn to play in a hurry. The sextet soon relocated to Macon, Georgia, to be in close proximity to their manager Walden and his Capricorn Sound Studios. The Allman Brothers Band was born.

After months of nonstop rehearsing and gigging (including some fondly remembered free shows performed in Macon's Central City Park and Atlanta's Piedmont Park), the group was ready to start recording. In September 1969, their debut album, The Allman Brothers Band, was recorded in New York and released shortly thereafter. Most of the album had a blues-rock sound and was met with critical acclaim, but at the time it enjoyed little commercial success. Fortunately, the spacy "Dreams" (which later provided framework for some of the band's best jams) and "Whipping Post,"-- both of which became standards in the Allmans' legendary live shows -- ultimately helped morph the band's first release into a cult classic.

The band's second album, Idlewild South (Capricorn, 1970) was released to critical acclaim and was quite lucrative - quickly hitting the Billboard charts. The Allman's improved songwriting combined with the raw sound displayed in their debut album was greeted with massive mainstream approval. The upbeat "Revival" and moody "Midnight Rider" were standouts that proved the band was getting more adept at shorter, radio-friendly numbers.

In March 1971, The Allman Brothers Band recorded "At Fillmore East", which was rated by Rolling Stone magazine to be among the top 50 albums of all time; in fact, it is widely viewed as one of the finest live albums in rock history. The Allman Brothers received the honor of being the last act to play the Fillmore East before it closed in June 1971. The final shows there achieved legendary status, partly due to bands' literally playing all night. (Later in a 2005 interview, Gregg related how the jamming musicians would lose track of time, not realizing it was dawn until the side doors of the Fillmore were opened and the morning light poured in.)

Whenever he could during this time, Duane continued to contribute session work to other artists' albums. According to Skydog: the Duane Allman Story, Duane was in the habit of spontaneously dropping in at recording sessions and contributing to whatever was being taped that day. He received cash payments but no recording credits, making it virtually impossible to compile a complete discography of his works.

The Allman Brothers Band went on to become one of the most influential rock groups of the 1970s, described by Rolling Stone's George Kimball in 1971 as "the best damn rock and roll band this country has produced in the past five years."

On October 29, only months after the summer release and great initial success of At Fillmore East, Duane was in Macon taking a break from touring and recording. While riding his Harley, he lost control when an oncoming truck suddenly stopped in mid-intersection. Allman was thrown from the Harley, which landed on top of him, crushing internal organs. The Allman Brothers Band lost its talismanic leader when Duane died several hours later, just weeks before his 25th birthday.

After the funeral and weeks of mourning, the five surviving members of the band managed to carry on, resuming live performances and finishing recording work. They released their next album, Eat a Peach in February, 1972. The name refers to one of Duane's interview lines given in response to the question, "How are you helping the revolution?" Duane said, "There ain't no revolution, only evolution, but every time I'm in Georgia I eat a peach for peace." The double album includes a side of Duane's live and studio tracks, two sides of "Mountain Jam," recorded with Duane at the Fillmore, and a side of tracks by the five surviving band members. A widely circulated urban legend is that "Eat a Peach" referred to what was being carried by the truck that killed Duane; however, this belief is without foundation.

Less than 13 months later in a bizarre and tragic coincidence, bassist Berry Oakley died in a similar motorcycle crash with a city bus, just three blocks from the site of Duane Allman's fatal accident. A commonly retold legend that Oakley's accident occurred at the exact same site as Duane's death is also incorrect. Berry Oakley's remains were laid to rest beside Duane Allman's in Macon's Rose Hill Cemetery.

During this time, The Allman Brothers Band - with their influential blend of hard rock, blues, and jazz -- helped pave the way for other Southern rock groups and jam bands such as the Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd to rise to prominence. Shortly after Duane's death, Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd dedicated the song "Free Bird" to the memory of Duane Allman. Although many people assume this song was written about Duane, it was actually written before his death. (Allen Collins wrote the song after his then girlfriend asked him the question, "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?")

Although Duane's death hit the group hard, they achieved the peak of their commercial success with 1972's Eat a Peach followed by the release of Brothers and Sisters in 1973. In fact, by this time, The Allman Brothers Band had become one of the country's top concert draws. On July 28, 1973 at the Summer Jam outside Watkins Glen, New York, their joint appearance with The Grateful Dead was arguably the band's most celebrated performance. An estimated 600,000 enthusiastic fans were in attendance at this massive outdoor festival.

Eventually, internal tensions, solo aspirations, and personal problems within the band led to a string of uneven albums. Gregg and Dickey Betts both began solo careers and personality conflicts were tearing the band apart. The group finally disbanded amidst a storm of publicity, then reformed to produce a strong 1979 release of Enlightened Rogues. Faced with financial woes and flagging popularity, the band members spent the next ten years disbanding, reforming, going solo and disbanding again.

It wasn't until 1989 that The Allman Brothers Band reunited and returned to popularity - spurred in part by Gregg Allman's recent FM radio solo success, the band's regular appearances on the American summer outdoor amphitheatre circuit and PolyGram's release of the band's archival material. Founders Gregg, Betts, Jaimoe and Trucks were now joined by newcomers Warren Haynes (guitar, vocals), Johnny Neel (keyboards and harmonica), and Allen Woody (bass guitar).

Finally, after a 20th Anniversary tour and four more years of lineup changes and turmoil it seemed that the band was entering a new period of stability and productivity. In 2003 and 2004 The Allman Brothers garnered back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in Best Rock Instrumental category for performances of "Instrumental Illness" from Hittin' The Note and One Way Out. In 2003, Duane Allman, Warren Haynes, Dickey Betts, and Derek Trucks were named to Rolling Stone Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Duane was listed at #2 and Trucks was noted as the youngest guitarist on the list.

Although the group has undergone a myriad of lineup changes, according to, the group currently consists of Gregg Allman on vocals and organ, Butch Trucks on drums and percussion, Jaimoe on drums, Marc Quiñones on percussion, Oteil Burbridge on bass (Burbridge claims to have played with The Allman Brothers Band longer than any other bassist), and Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes on lead and slide guitar.

Reminiscing about The Allman Brothers Band history in a 2008 interview with Lawrence Specker, Gregg said, "To say the band has had some lineup changes is an understatement." (The band's website lists twelve former members, starting with Allman's legendary brother Duane.) "But the unit is solid," he continued.

When questioned about the band's role today, Allman said he imagined it this way - "if it plays for an audience of 20,000 and each person out there has one problem on his or her mind, that's 20,000 problems. But, for about five hours, we're going to make 'em forget about those problems," he said. "'Cause they're going to be busy shaking their bootie and having a good time and that's what music is about."

Duane Allman
Duane Allman 1971

Gregg Allman Gregg Allman

Allman Joys


Dickey Betts
Dickey Betts
Cosmic Carnival
Jun 13, 1970 - Atlanta

Duane & Gregg Duane & Gregg
Promo Album

Sacramento, CA
Oct 14, 1975

Warren Haynes

Allen Woody

Derek Trucks

Links 100 Greatest Southern Rock Songs 100 Greatest Jam Band Artists
Allman Brothers Band Allman Brothers Band
2008 (L-R):

Jaimoe Johanson,
Marc Quiñones,
Butch Trucks,
Gregg Allman,
Derek Trucks,
Oteil Burbridge,
Warren Haynes
Studio Albums/Songs:
1. The Allman Brothers Band - 1969
   1. Don't Want You No More
   2. It's Not My Cross to Bear
   3. Black Hearted Woman
   4. Trouble No More
   5. Every Hungry Woman
   6. Dreams
   7. Whipping Post

2. Idlewild South - 1970
   1. Revival
   2. Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
   3. Midnight Rider
   4. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
   5. (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man
   6. Please Call Home
   7. Leave My Blues at Home
3. At Fillmore East (double/live album) - 1971
   1. Statesboro Blues
   2. Done Somebody Wrong
   3. Stormy Monday
   4. You Don't Love Me
   1. Hot 'Lanta
   2. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
   3. Whipping Post
4. Eat a Peach (double/partially live album) - 1972
   1. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
   2. Les Brers in A Minor
   3. Melissa
   4. Mountain Jam (Live)
   5. One Way Out (Live)
   6. Trouble No More (Live)
   7. Stand Back
   8. Blue Sky
   9. Little Martha
5. Brothers and Sisters - 1973
   1. Wasted Words
   2. Ramblin' Man
   3. Come and Go Blues
   4. Jelly Jelly
   5. Southbound
   6. Jessica
   7. Pony Boy
6. Win, Lose or Draw - 1975
   1. Can't Lose What You Never Had
   2. Just Another Love Song
   3. Nevertheless
   4. Win, Lose or Draw
   5. Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John
   6. High Falls
   7. Sweet Mama
7. Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas (Live) - 1976
   1. Introduction by Bill Graham
   2. Wasted Words
   3. Southbound
   4. Ramblin' Man
   5. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
   6. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
   7. Come and Go Blues
   8. Can't Lose What You Never Had
   9. Don't Want You No More
10. It's Not My Cross to Bear
11. Jessica
8. Enlightened Rogues - 1979
   1. Crazy Love
   2. Can't Take It With You
   3. Pegasus
   4. Need Your Love So Bad
   5. Blind Love
   6. Try It One More Time
   7. Just Ain't Easy
   8. Sail Away
9. Reach for the Sky - 1980
   1. Hell and High Water
   2. Mystery Woman
   3. From the Madness of the West
   4. I Got a Right to be Wrong
   5. Angeline
   6. Famous Last Words
   7. Keep On Keepin' On
   8. So Long
10. Brothers of the Road - 1981
   1. Brothers of the Road
   2. Leavin'
   3. Straight from the Heart
   4. The Heat is On
   5. Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday
   6. The Judgment
   7. Two Rights
   8. Never Knew How Much (I Needed You)
   9. Things You Used to Do
10. I Beg of You
11. Seven Turns - 1990
   1. Good Clean Fun
   2. Let Me Ride
   3. Low Down Dirty Mean
   4. Shine It On
   5. Loaded Dice
   6. Seven Turns
   7. Gambler's Roll
   8. True Gravity
   9. It Ain't Over Yet
12. Shades of Two Worlds - 1991
   1. End of the Line
   2. Bad Rain
   3. Nobody Knows
   4. Desert Blues
   5. Get On with Your Life
   6. Midnight Man
   7. Kind of Bird
   8. Come On in My Kitchen
13. An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set - 1992 (Live)
   1. End of the Line
   2. Blue Sky
   3. Get On with Your Life
   4. Southbound
   5. Midnight Blues
   6. Melissa
   7. Nobody Knows
   8. Dreams
   9. Revival
14. Where It All Begins - 1994
   1. All Night Train
   2. Sailin' 'Cross the Devil's Sea
   3. Back Where It All Begins
   4. Soulshine
   5. No One to Run With
   6. Change My Way of Living
   7. Mean Woman Blues
   8. Everybody's Got a Mountain to Climb
   9. What's Done Is Done
10. Temptation Is a Gun
15. An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set - 1995 (Live)
   1. Sailin' 'Cross the Devil's Sea
   2. You Don't Love Me
   3. Soulshine
   4. Back Where It All Begins
   5. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
   6. The Same Thing
   7. No One to Run With
   8. Jessica
16. Peakin' at the Beacon - 2000 (Live)
   1. Don't Want You No More
   2. It's Not My Cross to Bear
   3. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
   4. Every Hungry Woman
   5. Please Call Home
   6. Stand Back
   7. Black Hearted Woman
   8. Leave My Blues at Home
   9. Seven Turns
10. High Falls
17. Hittin' the Note - 2003
   1. Firing Line
   2. High Cost of Low Living
   3. Desdemona
   4. Woman Across the River
   5. Old Before My Time
   6. Who to Believe
   7. Maydell
   8. Rockin' Horse
   9. Heart of Stone
10. Instrumental Illness
11. Old Friend
18. One Way Out - 2004 (Live)
Disc one:
   1. Statesboro Blues
   2. Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
   3. Midnight Rider
   4. Rockin' Horse
   5. Desdemona
   6. Trouble No More
   7. Wasted Words
   8. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
   9. Instrumental Illness
Disc two:
   1. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
   2. Come and Go Blues
   3. Woman Across the River
   4. Old Before My Time
   5. Every Hungry Woman
   6. High Cost of Low Living
   7. Worried Down with the Blues
   8. Dreams
   9. Whipping Post
1. Live at the Beacon Theatre
- Released 2003/2005

2. Live at Great Woods
- Released 1998

4. Brothers of the Road
- Released 1998

30 Greatest Allman Brothers Band Songs
1. Whipping Post
2. One Way Out
3. Midnight Rider
4. Ramblin' Man
5. Statesboro Blues
6. Hot 'Lanta
7. Jessica
8. Melissa
9. Blue Sky
10. Revival (Love Is Everywhere)
11. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
12. Dreams
13. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
14. Little Martha
15. Wasted Words

16. Black Hearted Woman
17. Southbound
18. Crazy Love
19. Straight From The Heart
20. Soulshine
21. Can't Take It With You
22. Angeline
23. Stormy Monday
24. Mountain Jam
25. Win, Lose or Draw
26. Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John
27. Two Rights
28. Mystery Woman
29. Good Clean Fun
30. (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man

Placements On DigitalDreamDoor Lists (as of 01/09):
Allman Brothers Band:
Greatest Jam Bands - #3
Greatest Live Rock Artists - #20
Greatest Rock Music Ensembles - #49
Greatest Rock Artists of the '70s - #33
Greatest Rock Artists - #55
Most Influential Rock Artists - #79

Greatest Rock Keyboardists - #14 (Gregg Allman) #67 (Chuck Leavell)
Greatest Rock Guitarists - #19 (Duane Allman) #63 (Dickie Betts)
Greatest Rock Bass Guitarists - #61 (Berry Oakley) #41 (Oteil Burbridge)
Greatest Rock Drummers - #102 (Butch Trucks)
Greatest Rock Vocalists - #111 (Gregg Allman)
Greatest Rock Songwriters - #147 (Gregg Allman & Dickie Betts)

Greatest Live Rock Albums: - #3 (Live at the Fillmore East)
Greatest Rock Albums: - #120 (Live at the Fillmore East)
Greatest Rock Albums of The '70s - #48 (Live at the Fillmore East) #192 (Brothers And Sisters)
Greatest Rock 'Guitar' Albums - #87 Eat A Peach

Greatest Southern Rock Songs
#2 Ramblin Man
#6 Whipping Post
#11 Midnight Rider
#14 One Way Out
#20 Jessica
#30 Statesboro Blues
#36 Southbound
#41 Ain't Wastin Time No More
#44 Blue Sky
#51 Trouble No More
#57 Hot 'Lanta
Greatest Rock Songs
#146 Whipping Post
Greatest Rock Ballads
#37 Melissa
Greatest Rock Songs of the '70s
#164 Ramblin' Man

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