Triple Played: Truly, the good die too young
Duane Allman was only alive for 24 years, but he did more for American popular music than people who lived to be three times his age.
As proof of that, on March 19 Rounder Records released “Skydog, the Duane Allman Retrospective,” a limited edition 129-song, seven-CD box set. To give you an idea of the scope of Duane’s influence, only 19 of the songs in the set are from The Allman Brothers Band.
Duane was only in the band for a little over two years, but it was long enough for the band to be recognized as arguably the most influential rock band of the 1970s, single-handedly creating the genre of Southern rock.
The Allman Brothers Band’s influence can be seen in bands such as the Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Outlaws, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet and many others.
I have been a fan since I was in junior high school and Kristi Barnson, a transplanted California hippie girl, gave me a copy of “Live at the Fillmore East” to listen to. I only wanted to hear more, so I bought “Eat A Peach” and then “Brothers and Sisters.”
I was way too young when Duane died to really appreciate his talent or understand his impact, but I am now a bigger fan of Duane and The Allman Brothers Band than I have ever been. That is because I have spent the past 30-plus years becoming a fan with an insatiable thirst for everything Allman Brothers, just as I have with a number of other bands I consider to be a “favorite.”
The Allman Brothers Band was born in early 1969. It released “Allman Brothers Band” in 1969, “Idlewild South” in 1970 and the classic “Live at the Fillmore East” in 1971.
On Oct. 29, 1971, while taking a break from recording “Eat a Peach” Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Ga. In the short time he was a musician he had an incredible impact, not only on music but also on the people he recorded for and with.
From the liner notes of 1972’s “Duane Allman Anthology,” John Hammond told Jas Obrecht about his first meeting with Duane at a session for Hammond’s “Southern Fried” LP from 1969 on which Allman played slide on four tracks.
“It was not going well. All of the sudden this guy with long red hair down his back, eyebrows that crossed and a moustache that went all the way into sideburns shows up,” Hammond said.
“Duane said, ‘Man I sure dig your stuff and would love to play on your album if that’s okay?’
“The guys in the band really worshiped him and as soon as he gave me the okay the session went fantastic. ... He was a unique guitar player. ... And he was good friend, the kind of guy everybody looked up to. He was a real leader,” Hammond said.
In his brief time as a musician on this earth, Duane also recorded with Clarence Carter, Arthur Conley, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, the Soul Survivors, Otis Rush, John Hammond, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Herbie Mann, Boz Scaggs, Lulu and Laura Nyro and others.
Duane’s incredible influence continues 42 years after his death, making him one of the single greatest losses in the history of rock music.