A four-hour tribute to Duane Allman was presented on the Nov. 22 edition of Greasy Tracks, just two days after the 68th anniversary of the birth of the legendary guitarist.
A number of guests participated in the feature, including many musicians who played with Allman, each sharing fond
memories of the renowned slide-guitar player, not only from a musical point of view, but also interesting personal recollections.
Galadrielle Allman, Duane Allman’s daughter, discussed her recently published Please Be With Me: A Song For My Father, Duane Allman (Spiegel & Grau) and the seven-CD collection, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective — which she co-produced.
Jaimoe from the from the Allman Brothers Band talked about foregoing a trip to New York in 1969 where he was planning a jazz career, instead opting to go to Musle Shoals, Ala., to hear Allman play. They became friends and formed the Allman Brothers Band later that year.
Gregg Allman was unavailable according to his media representative and Dickey Betts’ manager said that Betts would have wanted to participate in the program, but was on a hunting trip.
Duane Allman played with the Allman Brothers Band until his untimely death at the age of 24 in 1971.
Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals as well as bassist David Hood and guitarist Jimmy Johnson of the Swampers, who played numerous studio sessions with Allman, talked about his prowess as a guitarist and shared some amusing accounts of him as a person.
One segment of the program focuses on the session that led to the landmark recording of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and the impact it had on Allman’s career and what would become the southern rock genre.
Drummer Johnny Sandlin, who first played with Duane and Gregg Allman in the Hour Glass in 1967-68, compared Duane’s playing on stage and his approach to studio work.
Bobby Whitlock, who played keyboards with Delaney & Bonnie’s backing band — a group Allman sat in on stage and did studio work with was also an entourage from which Eric Clapton took solace to escape the spotlight. Whitlock ended up leaving the band along with drummer Jim Gordon and bassist Carl Radle to form Derek and the Dominos with Clapton who invited Allman — who was between tours and recording with the Allman Brothers — to join in the sessions. Whitlock talks about recording with Allman and shares memories of how Duane interacted with Clapton in the studio.
While he recorded only two proper studio albums with the Allman Brothers Band, Allman gained great acclaim for his studio work and was in demand as a session player.
After the Allman Joys and Hour Glass — two bands he formed with his brother — failed to garner any success, Duane turned to session work
and was hired by Hall in the fall of 1968, following how impressed he was with the Nashville-born guitarist when the Hour Glass recorded at FAME earlier that year.
Allman — working primarily with FAME’s house band, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, best known as the Swampers — would go on to record
landmark sessions backing the likes of Pickett, Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin, Arthur Conley, King Curtis and Otis Rush.
In 1969, the Swampers opened their own facility — Muscle Shoals Sound Studio — and Allman would go on to play sessions there with Boz Scaggs, John Hammond and Ronnie Hawkins among others.
One of Duane Allman’s most-famous recordings was the title track to Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in 1970 where Allman’s slide guitar meshes magnificently with Eric Clapton and effectively takes the recording to another level.
The Allman Brothers released their self-titled debut album late 1969 and would follow with Idlewild South nearly a year later — neither proved to be commercial successes, but did provide a taste of what made the band tick as it combined blues standards, with jazz-, blues- and even country-inspired originals.
The Allman’s were more comfortable on stage and it was the double-live offering, At Fillmore East, which proved to be the band’s breakthrough release in the summer of 1971.
Long considered one of the greatest live albums of all time, it only had seven tracks, but At Fillmore East packed a potent punch.
From the opener, a rollicking version of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” to an extended take of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” and nearly 20-minute rendering of Willie Cobb’s “You Don’t Love Me,” the band is nothing short of mesmerizing in their approach, especially on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and the 23-plus minute “Whipping Post.”
In 2004, the Library of Congress added At Fillmore East to its National Recording Registry.
Now in its 20th year, Greasy Tracks is the longest-running soul and blues radio program in Connecticut, usually airing on Saturday, 3:30-5:30 p.m.