Duane Allman was no stranger to the inside of a recording studio when he showed up in Muscle Shoals, Ala., to work on his first studio session. At this session for Rick Hall’s Florence Alabama Musical Enterprises [FAME] studios, Duane and Wilson Pickett worked up a version of “Hey Jude” that would soon reach the top of the charts in spite of the fact that the Beatles had just taken it there a few months before. Although hesitant at first, Pickett was able to take a song he couldn’t relate to personally and turn it into a soul anthem. By the end of the session, Pickett was screaming over Duane’s wailing lead guitar while the other musicians stood in disbelief.
Moments later in New York, Atlantic Records VP Jerry Wexler received a call from an excited production staff. “We played it over the phone to Jerry right after we cut it,” said guitarist Jimmy Johnson. “We were all pretty much wiped out with what he did on that vamp at the end of the tune. Wexler was totally blown away and wanted to know right away, “Who was that?” He immediately picked up the phone and called Phil Walden, who had been looking for an act to manage since Otis Redding had passed. It wasn’t long before Wexler arrived in Muscle Shoals to buy Duane’s contract from Hall. From that point on, things moved rather quickly for Duane. Even though the second rhythm section, referred to as the FAME Gang, would endure a few more months at FAME before they would strike out on their own (the first group left for greener pastures a couple years earlier), the Hey Jude album would be the last big commercial success for FAME studios with Johnson, Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, and David Hood providing the rhythmic backdrop.
Actually, Duane had recorded at FAME prior to working there as a session player. Duane, brother Gregg, and the rest of their band Hour Glass had recorded some demos there in April ‘68, in order to capture live in the studio, away from the band’s controlling record producers, a sound truer to what they were already doing in their gigs. The band subsequently took the tapes back to Liberty Records in California where the demos were labeled “useless” and the group disbanded after playing a short tour of the South. Hour Glass had already recorded two albums since the summer of ‘67 at Liberty Sound Studios in Los Angeles, but the material on the albums did not at all reflect what the band was about. The band’s attempt to reinvent itself was a failure. Fortunately, however, Rick Hall and the FAME Gang were impressed by the demos, and Duane was eventually asked to work on a session, which quickly led to steady employment at FAME.
Prior to recording Hour Glass and Power of Love, Duane and Gregg had recorded as The Allman Joys for John D. Loudermilk in the summer of ‘66, and the single “Spoonful”/”You Deserve Each Other” was released on Dial Records that September. Loudermilk subsequently introduced the brothers to producer Buddy Killen and another session was recorded at Bradley’s Barn, a recording studio in Nashville. These ‘66 sessions were not released until 1973 on the album Early Allman by The Allman Joys. As a live act, The Allman Joys had played in small clubs throughout the South and Midwest with a repertoire consisting of hits by British bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Yardbirds. They would play Motown and other R&B hits as well. In their early days, the band even backed a teenage girl group called The Sandpipers, out of Pensacola. The Allman Joys urged the girls to follow them to New York where The Sandpipers landed a recording contract with Trude Heller and released a few singles with moderate success on Tru-Glo-Town records. The Allman Joys, however, were not chosen by Heller to be the studio backing band and the two groups parted ways. A bootleg recording of The Allman Joys backing The Sandpipers does exist as a testimony to this union and includes the song “Remember (Walking in the Sand).”
Personnel changes within The Allman Joys brought in Johnny Sandlin, Paul Hornsby, and Mabron McKinney from The Men-its (aka The Five Minutes), an Alabama group with whom they had shared the stage on several occasions. Eventually changing their name to The Allman-act, the band soon relocated to L.A., persuaded to do so by their soon to be manager Bill McEuen, brother of John McEuen of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. There, the name was changed, once again, to Hour Glass at the request of Liberty Records. The addition of these new members added just the right chemistry to the band, and McEuen was sure they could make it big on the West Coast. Hour Glass soon settled in Hollywood, Calif., signing with Liberty Records. Their creativity was stifled, however, by the record producers who made the band choose the songs for their albums “out of a box” and ignored Gregg’s original compositions almost completely. They were made to dress in psychedelic outfits complete with lace and frills and were forced to keep their live performances to a minimum for fear of overexposure. For the self-titled debut album, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack assisted the band in the studio and even laid down some bass tracks to help out a nervous McKinney (before he was replaced by Pete Carr). Hour Glass were allowed a little more autonomy on their second album, but by then they were bored and disillusioned with the West Coast, especially Liberty.
In retrospect, Hour Glass had been a perfect vehicle for Duane and Gregg in their quest to define a sound. Since the early days of The Allman Joys, the brothers had begun to develop their own voice, mainly through their performances. Displaced from the South, California may have been the perfect place for the group members to truly discover their own identities, both musical and personal. John McEuen recalled Hour Glass as an opening act at various venues around L.A. in his forthcoming autobiography. “The Allmans opened with “Norwegian Wood” as an instrumental, then closed with “Buckaroo” (the Buck Owens theme), with Duane throwing his guitar as high as he could at the end and letting it bounce around on impact. Then he’d pick it up and finish the tune, the stage would rotate, and we’d start our first song.” In fact, Hour Glass often shared a stage with The Buffalo Springfield in those days as well, in L.A. venues such as the Whisky a Go-Go. As fans of Hour Glass, Steven Stills and Neil Young wrote the liner notes on the back of the Power of Love album. The live shows that Hour Glass put on caused quite a stir at the Whisky, yet the performances on the album feel rigid. In spite of the enthusiasm for the band spawned by their live shows, Hour Glass disbanded by the summer of ‘68.
Following the breakup, Duane and Gregg recorded some demos that September with future Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks and his band called The 31st of February. The band, who had already released an album earlier that year as a trio featuring bassist David Brown and guitarist Scott Boyer, was looking to change its image as a folk band and asked the brothers to join them in the studio. The 31st of February sessions produced an early version of “Melissa” that features Duane on slide guitar for the first time on a recording. The session was recorded at Tone studios in Hialeah, Fla., and though never intended for release, was put out on album in 1973 by Bold Records as Duane and Greg Allman in order to capitalize on the fame that the brothers had achieved. Soon after the sessions, Gregg went back to L.A. to honor the contract that Liberty Records had made with Hour Glass and resumed working on a solo album that never saw the light of day. Duane later followed suit and left Florida for Alabama and FAME studios.
Sandlin and Carr also spent time in southern Florida, working for a short stint as session players at Tone. Trucks had also been a short-lived member of the Tone studios rhythm section, backing a 14-year-old Betty Wright on her debut album, My First Time Around. Sandlin and Carr joined the “Zoo” rhythm section, named for the studio there at Tone, just after Trucks left. They were joined by Bobby “Birdwatcher” Puccetti (of the Miami band The Birdwatchers) on keyboards and David Brown on bass (following the breakup of The 31st of February). In October ‘68, a single was released on Scott records by a group called The New Rock Band, comprised members of the Zoo rhythm section and an appearance by Duane. This ensemble recorded the single “Rock Steady” at Tone featuring Duane’s slide guitar, with the flip side an instrumental version spliced from the session called “Little David”, named for Puccetti’s young son. The single was produced by Brad Shapiro and was recorded before Duane left for Muscle Shoals. According to Puccetti, these musicians, with the addition of Trucks, Boyer and Gregg Allman had filled in as his backing band on several club dates as well. The single was also released on Laurie Records after some moderate success on local radio stations in southern Florida.
Though reports vary as to whether Duane actually received a letter from Rick Hall inviting him to FAME or if he just showed up looking for work, Duane arrived in Muscle Shoals in late November ’68. Duane worked on sessions for Pickett’s Hey Jude album, Clarence Carter’s The Dynamic Clarence Carter, and Arthur Conley’s More Sweet Soul. Also in late ’68, Duane recorded one track, “Twice a Man”, for an album by Barry Goldberg of Electric Flag called Two Jews Blues. Goldberg recordings with guitar icons Mike Bloomfield and Harvey Mandel were added to the album as well. Duane and other members of the rhythm section overdubbed their parts at the Quinvy studios, also in Muscle Shoals, to the master tape that Goldberg had brought down with him.
Other than album sessions, many singles were recorded at FAME, especially soul. Duane lent his guitar to a few of them. “I Never Loved a Woman” by Spencer Wiggins (in response to Franklin's “I Never Loved a Man" -- a real gem!) and James Carr’s version of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”, were both released on Goldwax. “A Lucky Loser” by Willie Walker was released on Checker. Duane overdubbed on a few Laura Lee tracks as well, including the single “It’s How You make it Good” which was released on Chess. This track and another called “It Ain’t What You Do” also appear on Lee’s 1972 release, Love More Than Pride. Duane recorded with Pickett on an Italian-language single meant to promote his appearance at the 19th Festival of San Remo held in Italy in January ‘69. The songs “Una Aventura” and “Amo Te (I’m in Love)” were released by Atlantic in Italy and performed by Pickett at the festival. In late ’68, Duane recorded a session with a group called The Lovelles from which the songs “I’m Comin’ Today” and “Pretending Dear” were released. This female ensemble was headed by soul singer Zulema Cusseaux and was produced by blues artist Roy Lee Johnson for Atco Records.
In early ‘69, Duane joined forces with King Curtis for Instant Groove. The song “Games People Play” won a Grammy Award for best R&B instrumental later that year. Guitar solos were overdubbed on top of tracks previously recorded at the American Studios in Memphis. Duane also added some lead and rhythm guitar to The Soul Survivors’ album Take another Look around this same time. Duane, Curtis, and the FAME Gang worked on Aretha Franklin’s This Girl’s in Love with You at the Atlantic Recording Studios in New York as well. Duane is at his backing best on the cuts “It Ain’t Fair” and “The Weight.” Duane may have played on a B-side medley released from that session called “Pledging My Love/The Clock” as well. In February, he worked with Otis Rush for his Mourning in the Morning, which was produced by Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites of Electric Flag. At these sessions, Bloomfield and Duane had the opportunity to play together in the studio, though Bloomfield did not actually play on the album. Duane may have worked with other artists as well, including Brook Benton, Lou Johnson, and the Sweet Inspirations, who passed through the doors of FAME during Duane’s tenure at the studio.
Through Wexler’s urging, Duane began work on a solo album at FAME in February ‘69, at the same time that Gregg was finishing his solo project back in L.A. Neither would ever come to fruition, and not until years later were individual tracks released on various compilations. A few songs from Duane’s aborted solo effort have been released on the Allman Brothers Dreams box set and the Duane Allman Anthology albums. Duane had brought in Sandlin and Hornsby from Hour Glass for the sessions and a new bass player, Berry Oakley, who would become a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. Sandlin and Hornsby, however, had grown weary of the “rock band” concept after the Hour Glass debacle and decided to take jobs as session musicians at the new Capricorn Studios in Macon. Duane decided that whatever it was he was searching for wasn’t in Muscle Shoals and returned to Florida with Oakley and a drummer named Jaimoe to play with Oakley’s band, The Second Coming. Dickey Betts already played guitar in The Second Coming, but the pairing of dual lead guitars worked well. Trucks eventually joined them as a drummer after the breakup of The 31st of February. Scott Boyer then formed Cowboy, and David Brown went on to play with Boz Scaggs.
Liberty Records had had their eyes on Gregg during the Hour Glass days and soon set to work on recording him as “Greg Allman and the Hour Glass” with a new backing group. A pair of singles was released with little fanfare. Merel Bregante and Larry Sims were featured on drums and bass, moving from their recently dissolved band The Sunshine Company to become part of Gregg’s new rhythm section. Hour Glass and The Sunshine Company had both been managed by Bill McEuen and were often booked together opening for bands such as The Doors and Grateful Dead. Gregg eventually abandoned the project, leaving California to join his brother in Jacksonville. Sims and Bregante later joined Loggins and Messina.
By March ‘69, Duane was under contract to Phil Walden and Capricorn Records, free from the restrictions of Hall and FAME. Rumor had it that Hall wasn’t too disappointed since he didn't know quite know what to do with him as a backing musician, and personally, there had been friction between them. Duane exited FAME around the same time as the rest of the rhythm section and never recorded at Hall’s studio again. “Rick Hall had a check in his pocket and a grin on his face,” Johnson said. “Actually, it was good for everybody.” By the end of the month the legendary “Jacksonville Jam” took place at the home of drummer Trucks, and The Allman Brothers Band was born. However, this was not the end of Duane’s session work. In fact, Duane’s next sessions were held at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with his old friends down the road.
With a bit of financial backing by Atlantic VP Wexler, the four core members of the FAME rhythm section (Beckett, Johnson, Hawkins, and Hood) left Hall in order to form their own studio, Muscle Shoals Sound. The convoluted story suggests that Hall wasn’t too pleased with Wexler, but the relationship between the two men had been poor ever since the disastrous 1967 Aretha Franklin session at FAME, which ensured that she would never again return to Muscle Shoals to record. Relations were further strained when Wexler somewhat “underhandedly” used FAME’s session players to finish up a Franklin session in New York City, with Hall believing that his boys were there to work on a King Curtis session. However, in reality, the rhythm section was ready to go out on its own, with or without any assistance from Wexler.
Muscle Shoals Sound thrived immediately, using the overflow of artists from FAME as well as the clients that Wexler brought its way. Even after Wexler pulled his business in favor of the renovated Criteria Studios in Miami (where he would base most of Atlantic’s soul sessions), Muscle Shoals Sound was able to bring in a steady roster of recording acts. Stax had begun sending artists there as well.
By April 1, 1969, Muscle Shoals Sound was up and running, and Cher was one of the first artists to record there. In fact, she even named her album after the address of the newly formed studio, calling it 3614 Jackson Highway. The Allman Brothers Band was just a few weeks old at that point, and Duane was able to help out the band by heading back to Muscle Shoals to earn some extra money doing sessions. Eddie Hinton became the house lead guitarist, turning down an invitation to join Duane’s new band in favor of the studio gig and other projects. Walden’s newly formed company, Capricorn Records, was based in Macon, Ga., and The Allman Brothers Band soon relocated. While in Macon, Duane was able to lend his guitar to sessions held there as well, even though Capricorn had its own session musicians on hand. Sandlin, Carr, and Hornsby had all relocated to Macon as well, becoming part of the Capricorn rhythm section. Duane’s new band recorded demos there that April in preparation for their first album. Members of The Allman Brothers Band also backed blues artist and producer Roy Lee Johnson at that time on sessions that have never been released.
An early May session cut at Muscle Shoals Sound was conceived by Sandlin and Hinton, called Duck and the Bear. Johnny “Duck” Sandlin and Eddie “Bear” Hinton invited Duane and other friends to join them for a session that would yield the single “Goin’ Up the Country”/“Hand Jive” on Atlantic (the former mislabeled “Goin’ Up to Country”). Hinton had produced the Hour Glass sessions at FAME and had at one time been a member of the Five Minutes but left to play sessions in Muscle Shoals and was succeeded by Pete Carr. Only one single was released by the group, which also featured Hornsby, Hood, and the Memphis Horns.
One of Duane’s most outstanding contributions as a session player was on the Boz Scaggs album, the first American release by the ex-Steve Miller band member. Also recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound in early May, Duane delivers a searing guitar solo to the song “Loan Me a Dime,” which takes up more than half an album side, and adds his signature “bird calls” (a precursor to “Layla”) to the end of the haunting “Finding Her.” Pictured on the inset of the album (for his first time as a session player) wearing nothing but a hat, Duane finally received his due, getting first billing as “Skydog.” Pickett had given Duane the name “Skyman” at their first session together, which, combined with his nickname “Dog”, quickly evolved into “Skydog.” As a session player, Duane was finally able to stretch out playing lead, slide and Dobro on almost the entire album, thanks to producer Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone magazine, who brought Duane in for the project. The first Piedmont Park show in Atlanta was held just after the Scaggs sessions concluded May 11, one of many free concerts given by The Allman Brothers Band at the park. This show has been considered the “formal” debut of the band.
An Alabama group called The Bleus, fronted by singer Tony Lumpkin, used Duane on three tracks that were released on Amy-Bell records and produced by Hinton at Muscle Shoals Sound. “Julianna’s Gone” features Duane’s melodic slide work, while “Leavin’ Lisa” captures him achieving a pedal steel effect by manipulating the volume knob on his guitar with his pinky finger. The flip side contains the track “Milk and Honey,” which was also cut by Southern Comfort, the group that would later record backing vocals for the Johnny Jenkins album produced by Duane at Capricorn Studios.
Before Duane made Macon, Ga. his permanent residence, he managed to leave his mark on one last project recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound. Never released until 1995, the Coleman-Hinton Project was shelved and all but forgotten until after Eddie Hinton’s untimely death. Tippy Armstrong plays lead guitar on the album, but one track called “What Goes On” captures Duane strumming a Dobro behind a soprano sax solo by King Curtis. According to Jim Coleman, Duane had recorded the demos for the album but moved out of Muscle Shoals around the time of the album’s production. He recorded on only one track for the album, a performance that goes uncredited. Coleman and Allman had been friends since the mid-60s when their respective groups The Gents and The Allman Joys toured together. Coleman became a songwriter in Muscle Shoals and briefly joined Hinton as a recording act, but contractual disagreements prevented the album’s release.
Duane was again on hand for the Franklin sessions for Spirit in the Dark which were in New York in late May. Some of the cuts remain unreleased. One track, called “Takin’ Another Man’s Place” surfaced in 1986 on Atlantic Blues: Vocalists. The sessions resulted in one of the finest albums of Franklin’s Atlantic period and provide another example of Duane’s contribution to soul, a facet of his career rarely mentioned. The Franklin sessions also mark the continued collaborations between Duane and King Curtis, who had become her official bandleader. Singer Percy Sledge was also at the Atlantic Recording studios during the Franklin sessions, and Duane suggested that he cut the Buffalo Springfield song “Kind Woman,” later released as a single. While in New York, Duane worked on demos with producer and recording artist John Simon for John Simon’s Album, which was completed later in Muscle Shoals with Eddie Hinton on guitar. None of Duane’s work was included on the album. Duane had been referred to Simon by The Band’s Robbie Robertson. Due to prior commitments Duane was unable to complete the project.
The Allman Brothers Band cut their first album in early September ‘69 at Atlantic Studios in New York. Adrian Barber producing. Duane’s guitar playing had evolved immensely since the days of The Allman Joys, and along with a new band came a new sound. Duane may have felt confined working purely as a studio musician, but the lessons learned were invaluable. He could not only play slide and lead as a driving force, but also learned how to back off and weave delicate rhythms throughout the solos of his bandmates. Duane had already established a name for himself in Southern musicians’ circles and did not intend to give up the role of sideman altogether, in spite of having a new band. The album was not an overnight success.
For the Ronnie Hawkins album, his next session project, Duane made an appearance in Muscle Shoals to record live in the studio with his old FAME buddies. The album was produced by Wexler and Dowd. The song “Down in the Alley” was released as a single, and had previously been a hit for the Clovers. A brief interview with John Lennon was released as a B-side of some pressings of the “Down in the Alley” single on the Cotillion label, documenting Lennon’s reaction to hearing the song during a brief stay at Hawkins’ home near Toronto in December ‘69. A slightly longer version of the “rap” with Lennon was released as a Cotillion single as well.
In early October, Duane appeared at Criteria Studios to work on yet another Franklin session. Duane reportedly plays acoustic guitar behind Franklin on her composition “Pullin” at this session, though he claimed to have been there only as an observer. Other songs were recorded as well in order to complete Spirit in the Dark and This Girl’s In Love with You, both released in 1970. Duane also worked on an album by Scottish pop star Lulu called New Routes, which includes a song written by Delaney Bramlett and Mac Davis called “Dirty Old Man”. Duane had yet to work with Delaney, but before long, they would become close friends. The majority of New Routes was recorded in September 1969 at Muscle Shoals Sound, but Duane overdubbed his parts at Criteria Studios slightly before the October Franklin sessions. The following month, Duane played slide on "Everlovin' Ways" for Judy Mayhan's album Moments and played on John Hammond's Southern Fried album. These Muscle Shoals Sound sessions were produced by Marlin Greene. Hammond and Allman formed a friendship that endured for the next, and last, two years of Duane's life. Duane visited Hammond in New York City just days prior to his death. The two discussed the possibility of doing an acoustic album together which, unfortunately, never happened.
Duane’s next studio project was for Johnny Jenkins’ Ton Ton Macoute!, on which he receives production credits as well. The sessions took place at Capricorn Studios, beginning with a couple of tracks recycled from Duane’s unfinished solo effort from his FAME days. Jenkins had been responsible for bringing Otis Redding to Stax, and it was as frontman in Jenkins’s band, The Pinetoppers, that Redding initially gained notoriety. Phil Walden managed Redding until his death in December 1967, a little over a year before he became Duane’s manager. Interesting to note, Jaimoe had played briefly in Redding’s band a couple years before and was introduced to Duane in Muscle Shoals through Walden. Band members Trucks, Oakley, and Jaimo all participate on the album. The Capricorn Studio rhythm section plays it real “swampy” on this album, which includes all of the former Hour Glass members except for Gregg. The CD version has two bonus tracks; others remain unreleased.
Also required listening for any soul music fan is Doris Duke’s underground classic I’m a Loser, rated as one of the all time best soul albums by Mojo magazine. According to Paul Hornsby, the album was “done quick, down and dirty”. Duane contributed guitar to a few tracks recorded at Capricorn Studios in Macon. The album was produced and the songs written by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams sometime in 1969. The song “To the Other Woman, I’m the Other Woman” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1970.
The Allman Brothers went back into the studio in Macon to begin work on their second album, Idlewild South, in early ‘70. More sessions were recorded in Miami that summer. The Tom Dowd production was completed with one final session at Regent Studios in New York City for “Please Call Home.” However, between these sessions and the constant touring, Duane did manage to pop in at Capricorn Studios for impromptu appearances on a few projects, including the Irma Thomas album titled In Between Tears, which was not released until 1973. The album was another “Swamp Dogg” production and features Duane and Pete Carr’s dueling guitars backing Thomas on a 12-minute rap that climaxes in an updated version of her earlier hit “Wish Someone Would Care.” Duane also backs soul singer Ella Brown on a series of singles. “Touch Me” and “A Woman Left Lonely” were produced by Brown's husband, Capricorn songwriter and recording artist Jacky Avery, and were released on the Lanor label. According to Avery, another single was produced by Duane and released on Adams Records in very limited quantities. The result of a “moonlight session” at Capricorn studios, the single containing “Frankie and Johnny” and “I Love You Baby” is a rare find. An Adams single containing the song “Hey Boy” was produced by Tony Dorsey and also showcases Duane on guitar. Brown later went on to join the band Wet Willie as a vocalist.
In the spring of ‘70, Duane joined Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett at Criteria Studios for what would become the To Bonnie from Delaney album. Delaney had asked Wexler about getting Ry Cooder to play slide guitar, but Wexler suggested Duane Allman instead. This project brought together King Curtis, Duane, and Delaney, a trio whose friendship grew very strong over the next year and a half. Although Delaney had not known Duane prior to the sessions, Bonnie had known him and his brother well since The Allman Joys days, having shared the stage with them at various venues in and around the St. Louis area, her old stomping grounds. A sudden appearance by Little Richard at Criteria resulted in the track “Miss Ann”, a jam on which Delaney later added vocals and edited down. Delaney also decided to add an acoustic jam that he, Bonnie, and Duane had recorded after the Criteria sessions. The “Come on in my Kitchen: Medley” is a true high point on the album, featuring Duane’s unmistakable Dobro.
In late June, Duane worked again with Ronnie Hawkins, this time for his album The Hawk. Duane plays Dobro, lead and rhythm guitar on this Cotillion release. Overall, the second collaboration by Hawkins and Allman is more cohesive than the first, with Duane energetically trading licks with Charlie Freeman of The Dixie Flyers. After completing the Hawkins sessions at Criteria, Duane braved traffic for an appearance with his own band at the Atlanta International Pop Festival in Byron, Ga., July 3. He nearly missed the engagement but was able to hop on the back of a motorcycle and maneuver his way through the traffic to get there just in time.
From late August to early September, Duane worked with Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon on Layla and other Assorted Love Songs, which would be credited to Derek and the Dominos. Enough has been written about the making of Layla over the years, as it remains one of the best guitar albums ever made. A 20th anniversary edition was released in 1990 in a three-CD set complete with studio jams and alternate takes and contains a booklet that does a good job relating how Duane got involved. Duane did join The Dominos on at least one live show held at Curtis Nixon Hall in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 1, 1970, and possibly on other dates as well. A bootleg of the Tampa show has been in circulation as well as a few photographs. Coincidentally, all of the members of Derek and the Dominos had been members of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends prior to recording Layla.
Duane also helped out Sam Samudio (Sam the Sham) in Miami for his album Hard and Heavy, which again features the Dixie Flyers, the Criteria house band put together by Jim Dickinson and Wexler for studio sessions. By then, Duane had become an honorary Flyer of sorts, on his frequent trips to Criteria. The last Samudio session coincided with a final visit to Criteria by Clapton and Allman together as “Dominos” in early October. The two guitarists recorded the acoustic “Mean Old World” jams that day, featured on the Dominos box set, joined by a previously uncredited Dickinson on piano. With Samudio, Duane also recorded an acoustic version of “Me and Bobbie McGee” closer to the Kris Kristofferson original than Janis Joplin’s version. It was released as a non-album single but pulled soon after Joplin’s version was released. Back in New York, Duane recorded the title track for an album by Laura Nyro called Christmas and the Beads of Sweat that was somehow overlooked for either volume of the Duane Allman Anthology albums.
By 1971, the members of The Allman Brothers Band had less free time than ever. They had been touring constantly for months, but it seemed that whenever the band had a break, Duane found time to record or play somewhere with somebody. At this point, it was less about the money and more about jamming with people who interested him. In January, Duane found time to join friends Delaney & Bonnie for the acoustic Motel Shot album, which features appearances by Gram Parsons and Joe Cocker, among others. In March, Duane joined the duo for another session on the West Coast for tracks that wouldn’t be released until ‘72 on the D&B Together album. Earlier D&B recordings with Clapton and Dave Mason were added to the album as well. Duane would occasionally join the act on stage, sometimes with Gregg.
Shortly after playing the final Fillmore concert on June 27, 1971, Duane was back at Atlantic Recording Studios with Herbie Mann working on his Push Push album. Duane had been playing a concert with Delaney & Bonnie in Central Park when Mann, unannounced, joined them for an encore. Mann lived in nearby Central Park South and could hear the concert from his balcony. Allowed on the stage by security, Mann was playing flute alongside Delaney, Bonnie, and Duane before they even knew he was there. After the show, Mann asked Duane if he would play guitar on his forthcoming album, and since Duane knew he would be in New York mixing The Allman Brothers Band at the Fillmore East album, he agreed. The CD version contains the bonus track “Funky Nassau”, not included on the original album.
Duane was also involved in a couple of live radio broadcasts that summer at the A&R studios in New York. On July 22, Duane, Gregg, and King Curtis joined Delaney & Bonnie & Friends for electric and acoustic sets for WPLJ. Duane paid an emotionally charged tribute to Curtis a few weeks later during The Allman Brothers Band’s August 26 broadcast from A&R, with his version of Curtis’ “Soul Serenade”, less than two weeks after the death of one of his closest friends. Bootlegs of both concerts are readily available. Curtis had just wrapped up production on a solo album by Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame), when he was murdered outside his New York City apartment building. The project was shelved and forgotten until 2002, when it was finally released under the title Plenty Good Lovin’.
Duane’s last sessions were for Cowboy’s album 5’ll Getcha Ten on which he recorded a beautiful Dobro accompaniment to “Please Be with Me.” Two takes were released, one on the original album and the other on Duane Allman An Anthology. Cowboy was another Capricorn act that featured Scott Boyer, Duane’s old friend from The 31st of February days. The session took place late that summer at Muscle Shoals Sound. Duane’s final recordings were with The Allman Brothers Band for Eat a Peach, recorded in Miami at Criteria by Dowd. “Little Martha”, “Blue Sky”, and “Stand Back” were the last three songs he recorded in the final weeks of his life in September and October ‘71. Some other recordings from the March Fillmore East shows were added to the final product so that Duane was represented on three sides of the two-record set. Duane had almost reached his 25th birthday when a motorcycle accident took his life on Oct. 29, 1971. Duane Allman An Anthology volumes one and two were released in 1972 and 1974, which highlight some of Duane’s studio work in addition to a few performances with The Allman Brothers Band.
In my never-ending search for “lost” Duane Allman recordings, I stumbled upon a copy of First Peace by Bobby Lance. The album was released in 1971 on Cotillion Records, recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound, and touts among its musicians Hinton, Hood, Hawkins, and Beckett with guest appearances by King Curtis and The Sweet Inspirations. One cut, “More than Enough Rain”, stands head and shoulders above the rest, with a blistering electric slide solo that is very much in the style of Duane Allman, quite possibly Duane himself. On the album jacket the slide guitar is credited to Eddie Hinton, but I tracked down Lance in New York City to verify. Lance said he has often been asked this question and has been unable to either confirm or deny the rumors. Lance went down to Criteria to overdub vocals to the rhythm tracks, using the same studio in the morning that The Dominos were using later in the day for Layla. Though Lance had been producing his own album, engineer Dowd offered to remix a couple of songs with which he was not altogether satisfied. According to Lance, Dowd most likely took advantage of Duane's availability and could easily have overdubbed Duane on guitar to create the brilliant interplay between Curtis’ sax solos and the searing slide solos. Lance left Miami after recording his vocal parts and left Dowd in charge of the remix. Lance’s relationship with Atlantic deteriorated soon after. After one more album, Lance left Atlantic and the recording business, disillusioned by the company’s lackluster promotion of his albums due to the preexisting contractual agreements he had with Motown as a songwriter. However, he considers the two Atlantic albums “the best damn albums you’ve never heard” and enthusiastically recalls sharing a hotel, among other things, with Clapton and Allman, late in the summer of 1970.
© 2005 Stuart D. Krause
(The following information was not included in the published article)
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