5 Reasons Why Duane Allman Is A Guitar Legend
Duane Allman - MyBrotherMan / Youtube
Duane Allman was a trailblazing figure who elevated the art of electric guitar soloing to previously unheard-of heights. He is especially renowned for his proficiency with a glass bottle slide, repurposed from a cough remedy.
As a member of The Allman Brothers Band, he was crucial to the development of the Southern rock genre and made a substantial contribution to what many view as the best live album ever.
Furthermore, Allman contributed to innumerable timeless albums by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, Boz Scaggs, and many more. Specifically, Allman was a featured artist on Derek and the Dominos’ legendary double album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which is considered one of the greatest rock and blues albums ever recorded and is commonly considered to be Eric Clapton’s best work.
These amazing feats would often serve as a powerful recap of a lengthy and tumultuous career, but Allman accomplished them in the span of only a few short years. Sadly, at the age of 24, he passed away in 1971.
He was one of the best guitarists to ever play
Rolling Stone has sung Duane’s greatness over and over again, and the first time they actually named him the second-best guitarist of all time in 2003 with Jimi Hendrix placing higher than him.
And the southern rock powerhouse had a compelling case: Rolling Stone loved Duane’s phenomenal work in Allman Brothers’ 1971 live album At Fillmore East. The magazine called it his “ultimate statement… improvising under the spell of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, from the bottleneck blast of “Statesboro Blues” to the 19-minute jam “You Don’t Love Me”.”
Duane Allman’s distinctive electric bottleneck approach eventually evolved into the musical hallmark of what would come to be known as Southern rock. Other slide guitarists adopted and absorbed this unique sound, including Joe Walsh, Derek Trucks, Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Allman’s bandmate Dickey Betts.
He recorded with Aretha Franklin, Herbie Man, and Eric Clapton
Duane was a highly coveted session musician both prior to and during his time with the band. But his early guitar sorcery in Wilson Pickett’s cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was what caught the attention of some bigwigs.
Thanks to “Hey Jude”, Allman was recognized by other musicians and was given a permanent spot as a session musician at Muscle Shoals. Particularly, fellow guitar deity Eric Clapton recalled being captivated by Allman’s lead break at the end of the cover, stating, “I remember hearing Wilson Pickett’s ‘Hey Jude’ and just being astounded by the lead break at the end. I had to know who that was immediately – right now.”
Allman produced records for a wide range of performers while he was at Muscle Shoals, including Otis Rush, Percy Sledge, Johnny Jenkins, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, Doris Duke, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, and jazz flutist Herbie Mann.
He had a stellar record as a session musician
Prior to achieving guitar hero status in the Allman Brothers Band, Duane distinguished himself as a skilled session guitarist. He accumulated substantial studio experience, collaborating with some of the finest R&B vocalists globally.
Even as the Allman Brothers began gaining recognition with their albums, Duane persisted in recording with various artists, notably joining Clapton with Derek and the Dominos for their recording of the iconic songs, “Layla” and “Little Wing”.
Apart from his duels with Clapton, some of his best work includes his sessions with Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, King Curtis, Delaney & Bonnie, Clarence Carter, and John Hammond, Jr.
He founded a pioneering titan of Southern rock
Sometime later, Duane left Muscle Shoals and reunited with his brother, Gregg Allman, to form the Allman Brothers Band, which would later significantly influence American music for decades.
Under the Capricorn Records label, their first two studio albums, The Allman Brothers Band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970), saw only modest commercial success. However, the release of their live album At Fillmore East in 1971 marked a turning point. The band’s longer versions of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post”, which highlighted their unique jamming technique, were included in this record, which marked a major artistic and commercial breakthrough.
The band had a big impact on Southern rock culture and helped pave the way for the success of many other well-known Southern bands, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Wet Willie. The Allman Brothers were also credited with turning Capricorn Records into a big independent label almost single-handedly.
His legacy is one that will always be remembered
Duane passed away tragically in a motorbike accident when he was just 24 years old, yet his legacy has endured for an astonishing 45 years. Since his tragic death, his incredible lead and slide guitar abilities have had a lasting impact on other musicians. Duane Allman’s legacy lives on in The Allman Brothers’ timeless music and in the many other artists who continue to be inspired by his revolutionary contributions.
After his untimely death, he was the most compelling guitarist in America. Allman filled the vacuum left by the death of Jimi Hendrix the previous year with his own brand of brilliance, especially when it came to displaying his style.
Recorded under Capricorn Records, the critically praised double CD The Allman Brothers Band: Live at Fillmore East included Duane, Gregg, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Jaimoe, and Butch Trucks. With the excellent accolades this album received, the band shot to the top of the country’s music scene. Critics now consider this endeavor to be among the greatest successes in recorded live rock music.