By John R. Olson
The Allman Brothers Band originally formed in Jacksonville Florida in March 1969. The band members consisted of brothers Gregg Allman on the organ and vocals with brother Duane Allman playing guitar and vocals. The three other members were Berry Oakley and Dickey Betts, both on guitar along with Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson on the drums.
The group was considered southern rock although their music was both blues rock and hard rock. The band played numerous shows throughout the south and released their first album The Allman Brothers Band. "Dreams" set the stage for their live shows which created a cult class of listeners. Songs like "Idle Wild South","Midnight Rider" and "Revival" showed a softer side of the band which won them popularity on radio stations.
In 1971 they recorded a live album on March 12 and 13 at rock venue Fillmore East. The album "At Filmore East" was labeled by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 greatest albums of all times. The performance from that venue was legendary through the years to come. The band played blues and rock while the vocals by Gregg Allman was a mixture of a Ray Charles rendition of throaty blues. The band was having such a great time performing for the audience that before they realized it they had played through the night into the early dawn.
Later that year they released Stoneybrook in Stoneybrook, NY. Duane Allman stretched out his imagination and acoustics with the slide guitar on this particular album. It wasn't long after the album At Fillmore East had gone gold that Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon Georgia on October 29,1971.
Dickey Betts stepped up to complete the album "Eat A Peach". The group continued to play as a five man band for a while and then added Chuck Leavell, a pianist. He wasn't a replacement for Duane but added another lead instrument to the band. They debuted on November 2, 1971 on a late night television show ABC's In Concert. Nine days later band member Barry Oakley died from serious head injuries in a motorcycle accident that occurred within 3 blocks of Duane Allman's motorcycle accident. In late 1972 Oakley was replaced with Lamar Williams just prior to the completion of the album "Brothers and Sisters" released in August 1973.
By this time The Allman Brothers Band had become one of the leading concert draws in the country. July 28, 1973 they performed at Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in New York. It was a huge festival on a racetrack just outside of New York. An estimated audience of 600,000 attended this festival. The performance was remembered as their greatest celebrated performance ever. On New Years Eve 1973, Billy Graham arranged for a radio broadcast covering their concert at San Francisco's Cow Palace. This performance was another huge highlight for the band.
They continued to perform over the next few years, however personal conflicts among band members arose and caused members to seek solo careers. Drug abuse took its toll on the entire band during this time. The group split up in 1976 and regrouped again in 1978 to release "Enlightened Rogue".
The popularity that they had previously experienced had diminished and they broke up again in 1982. Gregg Allman found success as a solo artist and made some headway in radio which propelled the band to join together again in 1989. They are still touring and celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2009. They have had a great number of additional successes in the past decade that will continue to keep their music forever legendary.
John is an avid music enthusiast and loves the music from the 60's and 70's. One of the best ways to listen to these artists is on the MFSL platform. The Allman Brothers MFSL were one of the few artists that produced multiple records on the UDCD gold disc platform.
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