The southern American mega-group, The Allman Brothers boast over 40 years in the music industry and are considered a classic rock staple with a mix of blues, rock and a unique approach to jamming.
The founding members were Gregg Allman and Duane Allman with original supporting members in the form of Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson. The band has been awarded eleven gold and 5 platinum albums between the years of 1971 and 2005.
The band’s first self-titled album was a critical success but with the southern rock genre being such an underground phenomenon, it didn’t reach mainstream attention. The opposite was true for its second album Idlewild South in 1970 which produced an Allman Brother’s classic, Midnight Rider which was more radio-friendly and remains so to this day.
In 1971, the band released the recording of its performance at the Fillmore East. It highlighted the bands’ finesse at improvisation and Gregg’s coarse vocals on songs like the 23 minute version of Whipping Post and 13 minute In the Memory of Elizabeth Reed. It was a massive success.
Tragedy struck the band when Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after this legendary Fillmore performance. The group decided to carry on and Betts filled Duane’s role while recording their third album, Eat a Peach.
Ironically, another member, Oakley, died due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle injury. This happened shortly before the band finished its fourth album, Brothers and Sisters. This became another one of must-have Allman Brothers albums with tracks, Ramblin’ Man and Jessica.
By 1973, The Allman Brothers could claim to be one of the best loved festival and concert acts. Their success led to other southern acts, like Lynyrd Skynrd, rising through the charts.
Like many successful rock acts, drug use, personal conflicts and differing musical directions produced cracks in the group. 1975’s album, Win, Lose or Draw didn’t feature all the members of the band.
By 1979, The Allman Brothers were all but non-existent in the charts but still had a committed following. The band officially broke up in 1982 when Gregg formed the uniquely titled Gregg Allman Band. Other dominant member, Betts joined forces with Trucks and other latter Allman additions David Goldflies and Chuck Leavell to form the short-lived and equally novel band named, Betts, Hall, Leavell and Trucks. Both fledging bands toured small venues.
During the next few years, Gregg and Betts moved in a parallel fashion, releasing solo material and performing one-off reunions. Gregg’s solo success prompted an official reunion with Betts, Jaimoe and Trucks. They added Warren Haynes, Johnny Neel and Allen Woody to the line up.
The band was signed to Epic Records and released three new albums. In 1995, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the cusp of the new century, more line up transformations ensued including the addition of the young but insanely talented guitar player, Derek Trucks (the nephew of Butch Trucks). Betts was painfully forced out of the band for “personal and professional reasons”. This was indicative of the tenuous relationship that Betts and Gregg experienced in the past. The Allman Brothers continue to perform live.
Group has included Howard Duane Allman, born November 20,1946, Nashville, TN, died in a motorcycle accident October 29, 1971; Gregg Allman, born December 8, 1947, Nashville; Duane and Gregg's mother's name was Géraldine Allman; Dicky Betts (guitar); Warren Heynes (guitar); Jai Johanny Johanson (drums); Chuck Leavell (piano); Johnny Neel (harmonica and keyboards); Berry Oakley (bass), deceased, 1972; Dan Toller (guitar); Butch Trucks (drums); Lamar Williams (bass); Allen Woody (bass).
Band formed c. 1968.
Addresses: Record company—Epic (Sony Music Distribution), Sony Music Entertainment, P.O. Box 4450, New York, NY 10101.
"Duane was the father of the band," said Gregg in Guitar Player. "He had a lot to do with the spontaneity of the whole thing. He was like the mother ship. Somehow he had this real magic about him that would lock us all in, and we'd take off." Although he is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries, Duane was as equally inventive and skillful as Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, or Jimmy Page. His work on Clapton's Layla LP prodded the Englishman to new heights and created one of the finest rock albums of all time.
The Allman Brothers band took a devastating blow on October 29,1971 when Duane was killed in a motorcycle crash at the age of 24. A tight-knit family, the Allman Brothers band continued on without replacing Duane and issued Eat a Peach in 1972. One half of the LP consisted of live cuts from their Fillmore dates and the studio side included the hit "Melissa." Betts took control of the band's direction and continued in his instrumental vein with "Jessica" on their next album, Brothers and Sisters. They had their biggest hit, "Ramblin' Man," but were also struck again by tragedy when Berry Oakley died just 13 months after Duane in an eerily similar accident.
The Allman Brothers Band, Atco, 1969.
Idlewild South, Atco, 1970.
Live at the Fillmore East, Capricorn, 1971.
Eat a Peach, Capricorn, 1972.
Brothers and Sisters, Capricorn, 1973.
Win, Lose or Draw, Capricorn, 1975.
The Road Goes on Forever, Capricorn, 1975.
Wipe The Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas, Capricorn, 1976.
Enlightened Rogues, Capricorn, 1979.
Reach for the Sky, Arista, 1980.
Brothers of the Road.
Dreams (retrospective box set), Polydor, 1989.
Seven Turns, Epic, 1990.
Live At Ludlow Garage, Polygram, 1990.
Shades of Two Worlds, Epic, 1991.
An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set, Epic, 1992.
Where It All Begins, Sony, 1994.
An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set, Epic, 1995.
Peakin' at the Beacon, Epic, 2000.
Hittin' the Note, Sanctuary, 2003.
Sources: Juanita Appleby; Calen D. Stone
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