One of the bands with the most overwhelming and epic virtuosity, within the chronology of the most supreme music and one of the most iconic groups, ever, of Southern rock genre. They are neither more nor less than The Allman Brothers Band, which are turning 51 years from the release of their self-titled debut album, on November 4, 1969. Thus, it is an ideal moment to recover several shocking flashes of a work of the band, which is full of fusion of rock and roll with blues, country, folk, and jazz; twinned all those styles in one of the most titanic, prodigious, and limitless ways ever performed.
We look back at the 20 Career Highlights Of The Allman Brothers Band:
1. The Rocky Boys From The Cemetery
Who were Elizabeth Reed or Little Martha? The Allman Brothers Band dedicated songs to them: Duane Allman played a quiet acoustic pearl called Little Martha and Dickey Betts, wrote a jazzy instrumental called In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – was it his girlfriends, his lovers, or some groupie like the ones the Beatles dedicated songs to? – Actually, these two names are famous only for the place where their owners were buried.
2. Duane Allman’s Truncated Path To Fame
With that peculiar style cultivated in a bucolic graveyard, they recorded a couple of studio albums —The Allman Brothers Band and Idlewild South— which were not a huge success but which served to make themselves known. In them, we find several of the group’s most famous songs: from the aforementioned instrumental Little Martha and Elizabeth Reed to the monumental Whipping post, through the calm melancholy of Midnight rider or Please call home or some energetic versions of classic blues songs like Hoochie Coochie Man. But it was their concerts that began to give the group real renown.
3. The Via Crucis Of The Allman Brothers Band
Duane’s death was about to cause the group’s dissolution. It had been the overwhelming personality of the guitarist that had brought the Allman Brothers Band forward, he had always pulled the bandwagon and he was the main star. The others didn’t know how to go on without him. Especially Gregg Allman, who instantly sank into a spiral of depression, alcohol, and drugs that would last for many years. Gregg and Duane had grown up without a father, so Duane – the older brother – had developed a tough and resilient character, becoming a father figure to Gregg. They had never been separated: the only time they had been apart from each other – for only a few months – was precisely the period when Duane was forming the embryo of the group and he called his brother to ask him to join. Duane’s death left Gregg aimless; He could still play and sing but was emotionally incapacitated to lead the band.
4. The Swan Song: the Rebirth And Dissolution
Oakley’s death finally plunged the group into a pit of despair, but this time it was Dickey Betts who made up his mind to grab the helm to keep the ship moving forward. They signed a new bassist and faced with the difficulty of finding a guitarist who could convincingly play Duane’s parts, they chose to continue with Betts as the only guitar and include a pianist in the group: the great Chuck Leavell. Leavell’s entry was a considerable success: his piano was integrated as if by magic into the sound of the group, and to top it off Dickey Betts was going through a very sweet moment as a composer. The result of all this was Brothers and Sisters, the first album by the Allman Brothers Band without Duane Allman – and the only album of the group with a single guitar – written and recorded in the middle of a carousel of misfortunes but which, paradoxically, became one of the great albums of the group, as good as any of the previous ones and for some even better.
5. The Warren Haynes era
With the arrival of the nineties, the Allman Brothers Band decided to reunite: this time with Warren Haynes forming a guitar duo with Dickey Betts. Haynes didn’t attract much public attention at first, but his contribution renewed the spirit of the band, along with a Betts who still played like the angels – despite his chronic alcoholism – and a Gregg Allman whose voice and ability to perform songs with Chilling drama had only deepened over the years. Only pianist Chuck Leavell declined the offer to return to the group, as he had the opportunity to make a lot more money as an employee of the Rolling Stones.
6. Seven Classic Records To Start
A selection of albums with which to start getting to know the group’s music: not all their albums are there, not even all of their best albums, but we believe that a selection of seven is more than enough as a first approximation, for those who are not yet familiar with The rainbow of sounds from the Allman Brothers Band. More complex music than it seems at first glance, to which the nickname “southern rock”, without being completely uncertain, falls short.
The Seven Classic Records
7. The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
The exceptional debut of an exceptional band. The blues fly over all the work but enriched with its typical harmonies on two guitars, the organ, and the peculiar rhythmic framework of two drums working at the same time. It contains Whippin’ post, one of their most legendary songs, although the studio version is just an embryo for the crushing live versions. Despite the youth of its members, the group sounds like a veteran band that has been on the road for decades. Gregg Allman’s voice is incomprehensibly mature for a twenty-something, the very young Duane Allman already excels with his guitar and Dickey Betts is not far behind either. The production of the album is not perfect, but the strength of the group overcomes it.
8. Idlewild South (1970)
Everything that the first album offered, but corrected and increased. The band expands the borders of their blues sound and plays with jazz with the simple but hypnotic melodies of the classic In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, with hippie-ism in Revival or even with funk in Leave My Blues At Home. It also contains another of their most mythical songs, Midnight Rider, covered by many artists, and the beautiful, solemn ballad Please Call Home. Second and last studio album released with the original line-up still intact.
9. At Fillmore East (1971)
The music that the group had recorded in the studio was already fantastic, but in concert, it reached a completely new dimension. The group sounds vibrant and often tremendous, lengthening most of the tracks at their whim without making the guitar solos or instrumental interlacing boring for a single moment. Few recordings of a rock concert contain so many magical moments and rarely does a group of six musicians achieve such degrees of exultant intensity. Overwhelming, monumental.
10. Eat A Peach (1972)
A collage that collects the latest studio recordings of the late Duane Allman – including the short and magical Little Martha – and also memorable concert fragments such as Mountain Jam, a mind-blowing sound journey lasting over half an hour (recorded at the Fillmore East but due to its length it was left out of the previous album) and that on vinyl it was divided into two parts, but thanks to the CD version we can enjoy without interruptions. All the music collected in this kind of posthumous compilation is, with or without Duane, magnificent.
11. Brothers and Sisters (1973)
The first album in which Duane Allman’s guitar can’t be heard and the only album in the history of the band in which there is only one guitarist. The album they recorded in the midst of a tragic era that, even so, is one of their best albums if not directly their masterpiece. Finally, a studio recording picks up the intensity of which the group was capable of live, and, in the absence of the typical guitar duets in the absence of Duane, Chuck Leavell’s piano adds new nuances and blends in perfectly with the classic sound of the band. band. It contains two of the biggest hits in the group’s history: the country anthem Ramblin ‘Man, sung by Dickey Betts, and the irresistible instrumental Jessica. Also on this album – again despite Duane’s absence – we find probably the best blues on the group’s discography, Jelly Jelly. Betts writes almost all the music, but the two songs that Gregg Allman contributes are not far behind, especially the fascinating Come and go blues.
12. Seven turns (1990)
Seventeen years have passed since Brothers and Sisters until success smiled again at the group, although they had recorded some very good album in between (like that Enlightened Rogues of 1979). In this new line-up, Dickey Betts continued to lead the musical helm but the specific weight of a then-unknown Warren Haynes was beginning to be noticed. The song that gives title to the album, the beautiful Seven Turns, is a typical “Betts song” that would not have been out of tune in the group’s classic era and in more basic and rock songs like Good clean fun the Betts-Haynes duet sounds as effective as vacilón: for the first time since the days of Duane, Dickey Betts has a guitarist by his side who is not too small for him. A magnificent return in which the ABBs did not sound, far from it, to old glories, but to an enthusiastic group that had just started. Pianist Johnny Neel may not be Chuck Leavell, but his input is fantastic.
13. Hittin’ The Note (2003)
Following the inconceivable and unexpected —but surely inevitable— expulsion of Dickey Betts, the Allman Brothers Band have only released this single studio album. Warren Haynes replaces Betts as the brains of the band and new signing Derek Trucks takes it upon himself to fill the difficult role of filling Betts’ niche on the signature guitar duets. The group continues to experiment as if they had never left the seventies. Allman Brothers have survived the absence of Dickey Betts as in their day survived the absence of Duane Allman. To be totally honest, the “Betts touch” is a bit missing… but it is something logical and it does not detract from how much this current formation of the group can offer. Now it only remains to hope that Warren Haynes does not think of crashing the motorcycle.
The Essential Songs
14. Ain’t Wasting Time No More
Allman Brothers Band songs such as the excellent “Come and go blues” and this great “Ain’t wasting time no more”, among others of theirs, symbolize the clearest essence of southern rock, of which the Georgian group is the first that it spread internationally, since 1969 (although there were already embryonic local foci, since the 1950s, in Memphis or New Orleans); also opening doors for other considerable talents such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Marshall Tucker Band, Little Feat, Outlaws or Charlie Daniels Band, during the seventies.
15. Black-Hearted Woman
This very heartfelt, fluid, and compelling blues-rock-funk was generated by Gregg Allman for the band’s debut album in 1969, about a woman with a “black heart” that had hurt him in various ways. (and is that the songs of the bluesy genre are, essentially, about suffering). “Black-hearted woman” was released as a single in 1970 and is one of the most distinctive in their repertoire. Of course, the legendary tandem Duane Allman / Dickey Betts put the guitars here in a razor-sharp sixth gear that not many can match, let alone surpass.
16. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
The second part of the 60s / first half of the 70s: a golden band in rock, an unrepeatable musical big bang with exceptional bands in all genres, where both independent record companies and many multinational companies practically granted “carte blanche” his hired musicians and millions of listeners were extremely pleased with those LPs, of absolute creative freedom. One of the standard-bearers of all that ideal paradise were the Allman Brothers, who were first signed, in 1969 by ATCO Records, a subsidiary of the great Atlantic Records corporation, and then, in 1971, by another alternative label specialized in “southern” as Capricorn Records; which had the founding help of Atlantic itself.
Gregg Allman was in a Florida grocery store, in 1967, about to be charged for various products such as coffee or sugar at the checkout, when he observed a Spanish customer, an older woman who was being served by another shop assistant. establishment. Then, the mischievous granddaughter of the lady, called Melissa, escaped from her arms into the aisles of the supermarket, and then the little girl was required by name, by her worried grandmother. That same was the sweet spark and the feminine name that Gregg needed to finish inspiring himself for a romantic song of the superiors since he himself considered that he had not written any of quality, when he was not yet a member of the group that transported him to the celebrity.
18. Whipping Post
Stands as a very distressed rock-blues, which recounts the sorrows of a man who has been abandoned by a ruthless woman. The funny anecdote was that the vocalist Gregg Allman wrote this song on an ironing board (since he could not find any paper at home, at that crucial moment) and a few days after his brother Duane introduced him to the band, in 1969. At first, it was a laid-back ballad but bassist Berry Oakley added a more tense part to the “intro” and Gregg himself struggled to make his voice that much hoarse and desperate.
19. Midnight Rider
Composed, in 1973, in a cabin in Macon, Georgia, (the combo’s base of operations) in the middle of pot smoke, the swaying and indestructible “Midnight rider” is one of the “southern rock ”most fabulously high as songwriter Gregg Allman. The lyrics are dedicated to overcoming all obstacles that place a wandering and ungovernable person, although Gregg himself also feared dying, after the two unfortunate disappearances of his brother and his bass player, between 1971 and 1972.
Once upon a time, there was a marriage formed by one of the most colossal rock guitarists, Dickie Betts, and his wife Sandy Bluesky, who had a daughter named Jessica. Later, in 1972, when the little girl was only one year old, she entered the room where her father was playing the first chords of composition and after for that reason, the girl herself then began to dance, her father When he saw her so beautiful, it occurred to him to dedicate to her one of the most extraordinary instrumental pieces that are remembered in any musical genre. Daddy Dickie created this happy melody with a two-finger playing technique also in homage to the style of Belgian jazzman Django Reinhardt. When Betts himself and guitarist Les Dudek got into the truck to go to the studio, in a hurry, and teach this special song to the other musicians of the band, it began to snow and it is that the ill-fated, in 1971, Duane Allman seemed to bless the newly created masterpiece, according to Dudek himself; this one overwhelmed by this immaculate sign from heaven.