History Of The Band
In 1969 a revolution was launched from the streets of Macon, consisting of guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, and a uniquely spirited brotherhood. The revolutionaries of record were the Allman Brothers Band, who, as the founders of what became known as Southern rock, changed the course of popular American music and turned Macon into the recording hot bed of the 1970s.
From 1969 to 1979, the Allmans called Macon home, and their contributions and exploits have become a legendary part of this town’s history.
The band was formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1969 by brother Duane Allman (slide guitar and lead guitar) with Gregg Allman (vocals, organ, songwriting), Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums), and Jaimoe (drums). While the band has been called the principal architects of Southern rock, they also incorporate elements of blues, jazz, and country music, and their live shows have jam band-style improvisation and instrumentals.
Duane & Gregg Allman had teen bands: The Houserockers, The Escorts, The Allman Joys & HourGlass. Jaimoe played with Lamar Williams in George Woods & the Sounds of Soul, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Joe Tex and other R&B greats. Butch had pre-ABB bands The Vikings, The 31st of February, and was classically trained, playing tympani in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Berry Oakley first played bass for Tommy Roe & The Roemans, then the Second Coming with Dickey Betts. Dickey Betts had pre-ABB bands The Jokers and The Second Coming with Berry Oakley. Duane Allman, after quitting the Hourglass due to lack of artistic freedom, heads to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1968, and becomes the South’s premier session guitarist.
In January 1969, Duane Allman signs a management contract and recording contract with Phil Walden and Capricorn Records, after Phil hears his incredible guitar solo on Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude”. Duane begins to assemble a band.
ABB gradually formed in Jacksonville, FL in February & March 1969, with their actual birthdate March 26, 1969, and they move to Macon, GA within weeks, in order to utilize Phil Walden’s resources there.
ABB’s first LP, self-titled, was released in November 1969, and was lauded by critics but had tepid sales.
The band achieved its artistic and commercial breakthrough in 1971 with the release of At Fillmore East, which is considered by most critics to be the best live album ever made. It ranks #49 on Rolling Stone’s list of the best albums of all time. During the most fruitful period of rock music history, the mid 60s through the early 70s, George Kimball of Rolling Stone magazine hailed them as “the best damn rock and roll band this country has produced in the past five years.”
Just four days after At Fillmore East was certified gold, group leader Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident on 10/29/71. The group survived that tragedy, as well as the death of bassist Berry Oakley in another motorcycle accident a year later; the band achieved even greater commercial success in 1972 with the LP Eat a Peach reaching #4 on the charts.
In 1973, on the strength of radio hits and the fan base they had earned through incessant touring, they earned their first #1 album Brothers and Sisters, with Chuck Leavell on piano, and Lamar Williams on bass. Internal turmoil overtook the band soon after; the group dissolved in 1976.
ABB plays the Second Atlanta Pop Festival in Byron, GA to hundreds of thousands of people. They were the first band to play on July 3, 1970, and the last to play on July 5th, 1970.
ABB’s second LP, Idlewild South, was released in September 1970 with Tom Dowd producing. Although a step forward from the first LP, the sales were not much better.
Duane Allman invigorated Derek & the Dominos and recorded all but 3 songs with them for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album. The LP was released in December 1970.
The third ABB LP, At Fillmore East, was recorded in March 1971, released in July 1971, and was certified GOLD on October 25, 1971. ABB founder Duane Allman passes away four days later.
The ABB is hand-picked to be the final act to perform at the Fillmore East in NYC: June 27, 1971.
The band’s fourth LP features Duane on three studio tracks and bonus Fillmore East recordings, and the remaining five men finish the LP without Duane in December 1971. Eat A Peach outsells At Fillmore East in 1972, and the band tours as a five piece band.
In late 1972, the ABB asks pianist Chuck Leavell to join the band. They begin recording their fifth LP, Brothers and Sisters. Shortly after, Berry Oakley passes away, and is replaced by Jaimoe’s friend from Mississippi, Lamar Williams.
In 1973, Brothers and Sisters reaches #1 on the charts, and Ramblin Man reaches #2 on the singles chart, the highest ever for the ABB.
In July 1973, the ABB headlines the highest attended concert in history at Watkins Glen, NY: 600,000 people came to see the Grateful Dead and The Band as well.
In 1974, the band plays a handful of shows to huge crowds and Gregg & Dickey also have solo tours.
In 1975, the ABB releases their sixth LP, Win, Lose or Draw, which sells well; however, the response from critics is lukewarm. The band also plays benefit concerts for Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign, thereby helping him get elected.
In May 1976, the ABB breaks up, and a double live LP called Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas is released, mostly comprised of the Chuck & Lamar line-up.
In 1976, Jaimoe founds a jazz fusion group with Chuck Leavell and Lamar Williams called Sea Level, and they also record for Capricorn Records.
In 1977-78, Gregg & Dickey do solo tours.
In 1979, the ABB reunites with Dan Toler on second guitar and Dave “Rook” Goldflies on bass. They record the ABB’s final Capricorn LP, Enlightened Rogues, which sells well and gets a decent response from critics and fans. The 1979 tour is a success as well.
Line-up #2 (October 1971 – October 1972)
Line-up #3 (October 1972 – November 1972)
Line-up #4 (December 1972 – May 1976)
They reformed briefly at the end of the decade with additional personnel changes, and dissolved again in 1982.
In 1980 & 1981, the ABB records two LPs for Arista Records, to tepid reviews & response.
The ABB breaks up in January 1982.
Gregg & Dickey pursue solo projects, and Gregg has a hit with “I’m No Angel”.
The ABB reunites with Warren Haynes on guitar and Allen Woody on bass in 1989 for their 20th anniversary, and a box set named Dreams is released. They also play the Beacon Theatre in NYC for the first time that year.
In 1989, the group reformed with some new members and has been recording and touring since. This remarkable renaissance period has lasted 24 years, including a series of personnel changes in the late 1990s, and the departure of founding guitarist Dickey Betts in 2000.
In 1990, the band releases a very well received LP, Seven Turns, which eventually goes GOLD.
In 1991, the band releases the LP “Shades of Two Worlds” and it is very well-received.
In 1994, the band releases “Where it all Begins” and it is a hit, going GOLD. They also are featured at Woodstock ’94.
In 1995, the ABB is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1997, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody resign from the ABB to take their own band, Gov’t Mule, full-time. Jack Pearson (guitar) and Oteil Burbridge (bass) replace them.
In 1999, the band celebrates it’s 30th Anniversary, with virtuoso prodigy Derek Trucks joining the band after Jack Pearson resigns.
Since 2001, the group’s lineup has remained unchanged, with guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, bassist Oteil Burbridge, and percussionist Marc Quinones joining founding members Gregg Allman, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks. They also became renowned for their month-long string of shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York City every March. The band has been awarded eleven gold and five platinum albums between 1971 and 2005 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
In 2000, the ABB and founding guitarist Dickey Betts part ways. Meanwhile, former ABB & then-current Gov’t Mule bass player Allen Woody passes away, opening the door for the return of Warren Haynes to the ABB.
In 2003, the current line-up releases “Hittin The Note” to much acclaim.
The group earned a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2012. Rolling Stone ranked them 52nd on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the Allman Brothers Band is the only group in history to have four different guitarists on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time: Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.
In 2011, the ABB is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy.
In 2012, the ABB receives the key to the Beacon Theatre in NYC for playing over 200 straight sold-out shows, mostly every March. Gregg Allman releases his autobiography, “My Cross To Bear,” and Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes play in an all-star blues band at a concert for President Obama, with the President even singing with them on “Sweet Home Chicago.”