Following the 1975 Allman Brothers Band album, Win Lose Or Draw, both Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts began actively pursuing solo careers. The group managed to stick it out into 1976, when Gregg was arrested on federal drug charges and agreed to testify against a friend and employee of the band. These factors, combined with the storm of publicity surrounding Gregg's marriage to Cher, took its toll on the group.
During this time, keyboard player Chuck Leavell, bassist Lamar Williams, and drummer Jai Johanny Johanson formed a trio called We Three that often jammed during rehearsals and soundchecks and occasionally opened shows for the group. When The Allman Brothers Band inevitably disbanded, the trio became a quartet with the addition of guitarist Jimmy Nalls.
Changing their name to Sea Level, a phonetic pun on their leader's name (C. Leavell), they toured extensively and signed on with Capricorn Records, then the epicenter label of southern rock. Mixing elements of blues, jazz, rock and funk, they released an impressive debut album in 1977 that considerably raised their profile. Following the album release, the group expanded to a septet, adding George Weaver as a second drummer/percussionist and Randall Brambeltt, an extremely talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, as the new front man. Bramblett also brought in his friend, guitarist Davis Causey, now giving the group that twin lead guitar sound so essential to most Southern Rock bands.
This configuration of the band was prolific, releasing two albums (Cats On The Coast and On The Edge) in 1978, and through extensive touring, established themselves as a great live act, with a unique sound that could loosely be described as a fusion of southern rock and jazz. Prior to the band's third album, both drummers departed. Joe English, a powerful drummer that had initially established himself in the early 1970's band, Jam Factory, and had just come off a stint as the drummer for Paul McCartney's band, Wings, filled this considerable void.
English solidified the sound of the group, giving it a more propulsive bottom end than ever before. This lineup, armed with catchy songs, superlative musicianship, and a natural gift for tight improvisation, became one of the finest southern rock bands, as well as jazz-rock fusion bands on the planet.