The Allman Brothers Band originated in Jacksonville, FL in 1969. Duane Allman (slide and lead guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals, organ), Forrest Richard "Dickey" Betts (guitar, vocals), Berry Oakley (bass), Butch Trucks (drums), and Johnny Lee Johnson (aka Jaimoe Johanson, drums) formed the group's original lineup. Earlier in the '60s, Gregg and Duane Allman played together in bands like the Escorts, the Allman Joys, and the Hour Glass, each touching on a different musical style. They found commercial success and critical adulation with their blend of hard rock, blues, and jazz, which was a key influence for many Southern rock groups and jam bands.
Though the group's debut, The Allman Brothers Band (Atco, 1969), enjoyed little commercial success at the time of its release, it was met with critical acclaim and has morphed into a cult classic. It features "Dreams" and "Whipping Post," which became standards of the Allmans' legendary live shows. Idlewild South (Atco, 1970), their sophomore release, was greeted with massive mainstream acceptance, as the record featured shorter, more radio-friendly numbers. Standouts like "Midnight Rider" and "Revival" featured improved songwriting chops coexisting with the multi-faceted, raw sound of their debut. The Allmans upped the ante with the wildly popular At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971), that captured them at their rollicking, fiery best—it is widely viewed as one of the finest live albums in rock history.
Tragically, just three months after the album's release, the group lost its talismanic lead guitarist Duane Allman in a motorcycle accident in Macon, GA. Though the death of Allman hit the group hard, they continued to find success, as they hit their commercial pinnacle with the classics, Eat a Peach (Capricorn, 1972) and Brothers and Sisters (Capricorn, 1973). However, the 1972 motorcycle death of bassist Berry Oakley, internal tensions, solo aspirations, and drug abuse led to problems within the band and a string of uneven albums. Betts became the group's sole, leading guitarist, defining the band's sound in the later part of their career. With 1979's Enlightened Rogues (Polydor/ Capricorn), however, the band re-emerged as a strong musical force, adding guitarist along with Betts to allow for a two-guitar sound again.
After the Capricorn label was shut down and their contract ended, the '80s were a mostly dormant decade for the band, but they reformed in 1989 in conjunction with the release of 4xCD box set Dreams, and the reunion lasted. In 1995, the Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They released new live material, but the line-up underwent further changes: Betts was kicked out of the band in 2000, and both Warren Haynes and Allen Woody (who was found dead in August 2000) had left the band by that point to form Gov't Mule. Haynes has since rejoined the band, and Derek Trucks, original member Butch's nephew, co-writes much of the band's material nowadays with Haynes. They received Grammy Award nominations in 2003 and 2004, and the band celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2009, playing one of their traditional runs at the Beacon Theatre in New York, this time playing 15 nights, featuring Eric Clapton as well as members of the Grateful Dead and Phish.
Read more about the Allman Brothers in Crawdaddy!:
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