For Allman Brothers Band, the road goes on forever
The first time I heard the music of the Allman Brothers Band was the summer before my senior year in high school.
A boyfriend at the time placed the album “Eat a Peach” on the turntable in his home and said “listen to this.” I was hooked.
By the time I discovered the music of the Allman Brothers Band, guitar wizard Duane Allman was dead at 24, along with bassist Barry Oakley – both killed in motorcycle accidents one year apart and within blocks of each other.
Duane’s brother and band co-founder Gregg Allman died May 27 at the age of 69.
An extremely skilled guitarist, Duane combined his slide guitar skills with extended improvisation to create a sound that would help launch the Southern rock movement. “Rolling Stone” has ranked Duane as the second greatest rock guitarist behind Jimi Hendrix.
But the heart and soul of the band was Gregg, whose piercing, gravelly blues-inspired voice, skills on the Hammond B-3 organ and songwriting prowess can be credited as the reason why the music of the Allman Brothers Band sounds just as fresh and emotionally powerful today as it did in 1969.
Without the Allman Brothers Band, we might not have had Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Widespread Panic, The Marshall Tucker Band, Black Oak Arkansas, Charlie Daniels, Molly Hatchett, The Outlaws, ZZ Top, The Black Crowes or even Alabama Shakes, The Black Keys or The Avett Brothers.
Derek Trucks, who together with his wife, blues singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi form the Tedeschi Trucks Band, is the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, who died in January.
In an article in “Rolling Stone,” ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons wrote that the Allman Brothers “defined the best of every music from the American South in that time. They were the best of all of us.”
The future of the Allman Brothers Band was shaky after the death of Duane and Barry Oakley, but with the help of guitarist Dickie Betts, the band carried on until 1976, when members went their separate ways. Gregg also had a solo career, with his most successful album being 1973’s “Laid Back.” I will admit that “Laid Back” played continuously on my Volkswagen Beetle’s 8-track player for a few months one winter.
Nowadays, the music of the Allman Brothers often keeps me company during my daily walks around the neighborhood.
In honor of what I consider to be the greatest rock band ever, and to mark the death of founder Gregg Allman, here is a list of essential Allman Brothers Band songs not to be missed. Turn the music up loud and enjoy.
“Dreams,” from the 1969 debut album “The Allman Brothers Band” is a slow-simmering improvisational piece featuring the soulful voice of Gregg and the guitar work of Duane. It clocks in at seven minutes.
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” from 1970’s “Idlewild South” is a jazzy instrumental piece written by guitarist Dickey Betts.
“Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” from 1972’s “Eat a Peach” and written by Gregg, is a tribute to his late brother Duane.
“Melissa,” from “Eat a Peach” is a ballad featuring the musicianship of Gregg and Duane.
“Statesboro Blues” from 1971’s “At Fillmore East” is a cover of an old blues tune by Blind Willie McTell and quintessential Allman Brothers Band.
“Midnight Rider” from 1970’s “Idlewild South” is one of the most popular of the band’s songs, and considered Gregg’s signature song.
“Jessica,” from 1973’s “Brothers and Sisters,” is the band’s most mainstream song and from the first album recorded after Duane’s death.
“Whipping Post” from the 1969 debut album, is possibly the greatest rock song ever written and the band’s most legendary. And Gregg wrote it when he was in his early 20s.
“Ramblin’ Man,” from 1973’s “Brothers and Sisters” marks a departure in sound for the band, but was also an effort to go mainstream. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart.
Susan Campbell may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.