The Allman Brothers Band
One of the most innovative Southern Rock/Blues/Jazz bands ever. Their Live at the Fillmore East album is generally considered the greatest live album of all time, and certainly is my favorite! Overall my 4 Favorite albums of theirs are Fillmore, Beginnings, Eat a Peach, and Brothers and Sisters.
Scroll down past the album listings for a complete history of the band.
|There has never been a better showcase for improvisational rock than this 1971 concert recording, and few (if any) live rock albums are in its rank. With only two studio albums (and plenty of touring) under their belt, the Georgia sextet tore into the Fillmore East with road-tested buoyancy. Titanic guitarist Duane Allman was at the peak of his powers, pushing his foil, Dickey Betts, to unsurpassed peaks. Vocalist-keyboardist Gregg Allman would have been a star in any other setting; here he's merely one more component in a brilliant ensemble. Duane Allman died shortly after At Fillmore East shipped, and the Brothers haven't scaled such heights since. But, then, neither has anyone else. --Steven Stolder|
Edited, Remixed, Remastered and Extended with songs and parts of songs not previously released on the FilleMore East album
Some folks prefer the original release, though this has nearly twice the material as the original. Hardcore ABB fans will probably want both, but if I was forced to choose only one I guess I'd have to suggest this one.
|For once, a record label actually gives us more bang for the buck, combining two indisputable classics--1969's self-titled debut and the 1970 follow-up Idlewild South--onto one glorious CD. Five urgent notes kick off Spencer Davis's "Don't Want You No More," and by the time that searing instrumental morphs into Gregg Allman's superb slow blues "It's Not My Cross to Bear," it's clear these Georgians mean business. Everyone talks of the Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon covers, the furious twin leads of Duane and Dickey Betts, Gregg's soulful voice and formidable organ, the percussion attack of Jaimoe and Butch Trucks, but what about the songwriting skills? Just start with "Cross to Bear," "Whipping Post," "Dreams," "Revival," "Elizabeth Reed"--are you kidding? These two records blend gritty blues, Southern soul, and psychedelic rock into an exciting creation, and they serve notice: the Allmans will contend for the title of best American rock & roll band. --Marc Greilsamer|
|Having firmly established themselves as "The Grateful Dead of the South" via their enormously successful 1971 Live at the Fillmore East double album, the Allman Brothers had just begun work on a new studio collection when slide guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. Undaunted, the group rallied together and completed Eat a Peach, which, via inclusion of the 34-minute-plus "Mountain Jam," blossomed into a double LP. While keyboardist-singer Gregg Allman shone on tracks like Sonny Boy Williamson's "One Way Out" and his own "Melissa," it was second guitarist Dickey Betts who came out from under the departed Allman's shadow with his lead vocal on "Blue Sky" and his incendiary playing throughout. --Billy Altman|
|Brothers and Sisters||Their first full studio album without guitarist Duane, 1973's Brothers and Sisters doesn't match what came before it but would probably be considered a masterpiece if it came from most other bands. The Allman(s) move away from their rougher blues rock toward a groovier Southern rock, a shift that reflects the increased influence of Dickey Betts and new pianist Chuck Leavell. Betts contributes chestnuts such as "Ramblin' Man," "Southbound," and the classic instrumental "Jessica," plus the acoustic finale "Pony Boy," which showcases his work on Dobro. Gregg's impact is not nearly what it once was, although his "Come and Go Blues" and "Jelly Jelly" hit the mark. Original bassist Berry Oakley passed away during these sessions and is heard on just two cuts. --Marc Greilsamer|
Some other Best Bets:
The Allman Brothers Band is a pioneering and innovative Southern rock and blues group from Macon, Georgia originally popular in 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".
The band was formed in 1969, consisting of Duane Allman (slide guitar and lead guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals, organ), Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums) and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson (drums). The actual Allman Brothers, Duane and Gregg, had originally been in a garage band called the Escorts, then the Allman Joys and finally the Hour Glass. The Hour Glass had released two failed albums from Liberty Records, they were all released from the contract except Gregg, who Liberty thought might have some commercial potential. Duane Allman, with a stint as a session guitarist in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on Johnny Jenkins Ton-Ton Macoute album behind him (it was to be Duane's first solo album before the ABB was formed), started jamming with Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Berry Oakley in Jacksonville, Fla. Duane brought in Jaimoe, a drummer he had played with before and the nucleus of the band was formed. Gregg was in LA fulfilling the HourGlass contract with Liberty Records. He was summoned back to Jacksonville by Duane to "fill out the band and sing."
The Allman Brothers Band played numerous shows in the south before releasing their debut album, The Allman Brothers Band. Critics loved it, but the blues-rock album found few listeners, attracting only a cult audience. Most of the record had a blues-rock sound, but "Dreams", a spacey number in 3/4 time, would provide the framework for some of their best jams.
Idlewild South (1970), the followup, produced by Tom Dowd, was a massive critical success, and managed to be quite lucrative, as well. The upbeat "Revival" and the moody-but-resolute "Midnight Rider" showed the band getting more adept at shorter, radio-friendly song forms. (It was after the release of Idlewild South that Duane Allman recorded the classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominos group.)
1971 saw the release of a live album, At Fillmore East, recorded on Friday and Saturday, March 12 and March 13, of that year at the legendary rock venue, the Fillmore East. The album was another huge hit, and is now remembered as one of the best live albums of all time. It showcased the band's unique mixture of jazz, classical music, hard rock, and blues, with arrangements propelled by Duane Allman and Betts' dual lead guitars, Oakley's long, melodic "third guitar" bass runs, the rhythm section's pervasively percussive yet dynamically flexible foundation, and Gregg Allman's gritty vocals. The band's rendition of Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues" was a straight-ahead opener, the powerful "Whipping Post" became the standard for a long, epic jam that never lost interest, while the ethereal-to-furious "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" invited comparisons to John Coltrane.
The Allman Brothers received the honor of being the last act to play the Fillmore East before it closed in June. The final shows there achieved legendary status, partly due to bands literally playing all night; in 2005 Gregg Allman would relate how the jamming musicians lost track of time, not realizing it was dawn until the side doors of the Fillmore were opened and the morning light poured in. The band continued to tour; decades later, a special-order recording of one of their final concerts in this lineup, SUNY at Stonybrook 9/19/71, would be released. It reveals that Duane Allman's slide guitar playing on "Dreams" and other songs was reaching the farthest reaches of that instrument and his imagination.
Misfortune and triumph
Duane Allman died not long after the Fillmore East album was certified gold, killed in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971 in Macon, Georgia (at the corner of Hillcrest and Bartlett) when he collided with a truck. The loss of their leader was hard for the group to bear, but they quickly decided to carry on. The album continued to gain FM radio airplay, with stations even playing 13-minute and 23-minute selections, but with many new listeners and fans not even aware of the loss the band and the music world had suffered.
Dickey Betts filled Duane's former role in completing Eat a Peach. The album was often softer ("Blue Sky", "Little Martha") and wistful in tone ("Melissa", "Ain't Wastin' Time No More"), capped by the 34-minute "Mountain Jam" reverie taken from the Fillmore East concerts. Writer Greil Marcus described parts of Eat a Peach as an "after-the-rain celebration ... ageless, seamless ... front-porch music stolen from the utopia of shared southern memory."
The group played some concerts as a five-man band, then decided to add Chuck Leavell, a pianist, to gain another lead instrument but without directly replacing Duane. This new configuration appeared on ABC's In Concert late-night television program.
Shortly after that, on November 11, 1972, Berry Oakley died in another motorcycle accident, only three blocks away (near Napier Avenue and Inverness Street) from the site of Duane Allman's fatal accident. (The common retelling, that it was at the exact same site as Duane Allman's death, is incorrect, as is the legend that the Eat a Peach album is named after the kind of truck involved in Allman's accident.)
Oakley was replaced by Lamar Williams at the end of 1972, in time to finish the next album, Brothers and Sisters (1973). The album marked a shift of direction towards country music, due partially to the loss of Tom Dowd, as well as the increasing influence of Dickey Betts, who soon became the bandleader. Brothers and Sisters included the group's best known hits, "Ramblin' Man" and "Jessica"; the former reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 as a single, while the latter was a seven-minute instrumental hit. The album was accessible and laid-back, and the band was bigger than ever.
By this time, the Allman Brothers Band had also become one of the top concert draws in the country. Probably their most celebrated performance of the era took place on July 28, 1973 at the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen outside Watkins Glen, New York, in a joint appearance with The Grateful Dead and The Band. Approximately 600,000 people were estimated to have made it to the racetrack where this massive outdoor festival took place. In the wake of the Allman Brothers Band's success during this time, many other Southern rock groups rose to prominence, including the Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Another peak of the Allmans' success came on New Year's Eve, 1973, when promoter Bill Graham arranged for a nationwide radio broadcast of their concert from San Francisco's Cow Palace. New arrangements of familiar tunes such as "You Don't Love Me" went out over the airwaves, as the show stretched out over three sets, with Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann as well as Boz Scaggs sitting in.
Turmoil and dissolution
Personality conflicts started to tear the band apart, however. Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts both began solo careers, while Allman married Cher, separated quickly, reconciled, and eventually separated again, all in a storm of publicity; drug abuse took its toll on the entire band. Musically, Betts and Leavell were pulling in opposite directions, with Allman trying to mediate. The tension resulted in the uneven Win, Lose or Draw (1975), with some members not participating or doing so only from afar. The few stand-out tracks included a stop-start take on Muddy Waters' "Can't Lose What You Never Had", Betts' instrumental "High Falls", and Allman's Jackson Browne-influenced title song. The band still managed to limp along until 1976, when Gregg Allman was arrested on federal drug charges and agreed to testify against a friend and employee of the band. Leavell, Johanson, and Williams formed Sea Level, while Betts worked on his solo career. All four swore that they would never work with Allman again.
Capricorn Records released several albums of previously unreleased material and live albums, such as Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas in 1976; some of these sold reasonably well.
The group reformed in 1978 and released Enlightened Rogues (1979). It featured new members Dan Toler (guitar) and David "Rook" Goldflies (bass), who replaced Leavell and Williams, both of whom refused to rejoin the band in order to concentrate on Sea Level. "Crazy Love" was a minor hit single, and the instrumental "Pegasus" got some airplay, but overall The Allman Brothers Band was no longer as popular as before, and financial woes plagued both the group and Capricorn Records, which collapsed in 1979. PolyGram took over the catalogue, and the Allman Brothers Band signed to Arista Records. The group released a pair of critically-slammed albums, firing Jaimoe in the process, and then disbanded once again in early 1982.
In 1989 The Allman Brothers reunited and returned to popular consciousness of the American public, spurred by the release of archival material by PolyGram and the start of regular appearances on the American summer outdoor amphitheatre circuit. Warren Haynes (guitar, vocals), Johnny Neel (keyboards and harmonica) and Allen Woody (bass guitar) joined, while Leavell and Williams remained apart; the former on tour with the Rolling Stones, and Lamar Williams dead from cancer in 1983. After signing to Epic Records, the band released Seven Turns (1990), which got excellent reviews. This was followed by Neel's departure and a series of moderately-selling, but critically well-received albums including Shades Of Two Worlds (1991) and Where It All Begins (1994, certified Gold 1998), both featuring new percussionist Marc Quinones. Warren Haynes and Allen Woody formed their own side project Gov't Mule in 1994. In 1995, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1996 they won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Jessica". When Haynes and Woody decided to concentrate full-time on Gov't Mule in 1997, Haynes was replaced on guitar by Jack Pearson, while Woody was replaced on bass by Oteil Burbridge. Derek Trucks, nephew of original Brother Butch Trucks, replaced Pearson in 1999.
In 2000, the band forced Dickey Betts to sit out the summer tour due to personal and professional reasons. For this tour, he was replaced by Jimmy Herring. Betts then filed a lawsuit against the other three original members and the summer separation turned into a permanent divorce. The band did release the live CD Peakin' At The Beacon which chronicled the annual March tradition of a many-night stand at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Also that same year, former bassist Allen Woody was found dead on August 26th.
Warren Haynes was asked to rejoin the band and after a successful Beacon Run, decided to work in both the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule at the same time (he was later to tour with Phil Lesh and Friends as well as The Dead in the summer of 2004 as well). The Haynes- produced Hittin' The Note was released in 2003 to popular and critical acclaim, as was the Live At the Beacon Theatre DVD film (2003, certified Gold 2003). The live CD One Way Out 2004 also chronicled the Beacon concerts.
The Allman Brothers garnered back to back Grammy Award nominations in 2003 and 2004 in the category of Best Rock Instrumental for performances of "Instrumental Illness" from Hittin' The Note and One Way Out. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Duane Allman, Warren Haynes, Dickey Betts, and Derek Trucks to their list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time , with Allman coming in at #2 and Trucks being the youngest guitarist on their list. The Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks lineup continued the Allman Brothers Band's connection with younger music fans via concert pairings with popular jam bands moe. and String Cheese Incident, among others. The Allman Brothers were a major attaction at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2003 and 2005.
For many years, the Allman Brothers' song "Jessica" was closely tied to the BBC television series Top Gear, and used as its theme tune. The current theme tune is a significantly reworked electronic version of the song. "Jessica" was also featured in a series of commercials in 2004 for the supermarket chain Publix, usually featuring scenes of happy family picnics. The song "Melissa" was recently used in the soundtrack of the movie Brokeback Mountain starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall.
Duane Allman (1969-1971) - guitar
Gregg Allman (1969-1975, 1979-1982, 1989-present) - vocals, organ, piano, guitar
Dickey Betts (1969-1975, 1979-1982, 1989-2000) - guitar, vocals
Berry Oakley (1969-1972) - bass, vocals
Butch Trucks (1969-1975, 1979-1982, 1989-present) - drums
Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson (1969-1975, 1979-1980; 1989-present) - drums
Chuck Leavell (1972-1976) - piano, Moog synthesizer
Lamar Williams (1972-1976) - bass
Dan Toler (1979-1982) - guitar
David "Rook" Goldflies (1979-1982) - bass
David Toler (1980-1982) - drums
Mike Lawler (1980-1982) - synthesizer, keytar, keyboards
Warren Haynes (1989-1997; 2000-present) - guitar, vocals
Allen Woody (1989-1997) - bass
Johnny Neel (1989-1990) - piano, harmonica
Marc Quinones (1991-present) - percussion
Oteil Burbridge (1997-present) - bass, drums
Jack Pearson (1997-1999) - guitar
Derek Trucks (1999-present) - guitar
The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
Idlewild South (1970)
At Fillmore East (live, 1971)
Eat a Peach (1972)
Beginnings (1973), a re-release of the band's first two albums
Brothers and Sisters (1973)
Win, Lose or Draw (1975)
Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas (live, 1976)
Enlightened Rogues (1979)
Reach for the Sky (1980)
Brothers of the Road (1981)
Dreams (box set, 1989)
Seven Turns (1990)
Shades of Two Worlds (1991)
Live at Ludlow Garage: 1970 (1991)
An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band: First Set (live, 1992)
Where It All Begins (1994)
Legendary Hits (1994)
An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set (live, 1995)
Peakin' at the Beacon (live, 2000)
Hittin' the Note (2003)
One Way Out (live, 2004)
Stand Back: The Anthology (2004)
The Essential Allman Brothers Band: The Epic Years (2004) ---Wikipedia
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