Duane Allman

Duane AllmanOn this day in 1946, the great guitarist Duane Allman was born. I can’t think of anyone who plays rock even as good, much less better. Most people think Hendrix was better, but it is hard to see that. I think that is because of what Hendrix did regarding the sound of the guitar. In terms of what he played, it was mostly pretty standard blues. Allman was pushing the envelope of what rock guitar was. It was still mostly blues, but it was a whole lot more. It is sad that we missed out on his evolution. He died in a motorcycle accident when he was only 24 years old.

He worked as a session musician for years, where he had a profound influence — working with people like Boz Scaggs, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin. He is probably best known for his guitar work on Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla.” He’s the one who created the guitar riff, which is about the only thing people remember on the song. He and Clapton shared guitar on the song with countless overdubs. But all the slide guitar was Allman.

Allman teamed up with his younger brother Gregg and a number of other great musicians to form The Allman Brothers. The three albums they released while Duane was still alive are all classics. They are more standard blues rock, but this isn’t Savoy Brown — as good as they are. And live, they are really something special. I’m having some difficulty finding really good live video, so here is “Whipping Post” from 1970 at Fillmore East (not the concert their third album was drawn from):

Happy birthday Duane Allman!

2 thoughts on “Duane Allman

  1. Eesh. Firstly, comparing Duane Allman and Hendrix is a little bit apples and oranges, as Allman was mostly an incredible and sometimes radical slide player and Hendrix barely played slide. Secondly, please listen to the album “Axis: Bold as Love” in headphones and tell me Hendrix is just playing “pretty standard blues.” There’s more funky playing on that thing than 99 percent of electric guitarists are capable of and it’s timeless to boot. I honestly think you’re purposely baiting your audience with the Hendrix “standard blues” comment. Or maybe you were feeling naughty today.

    • Yeah, I was baiting my audience a bit. Also: Allman seems to have fallen out of favor with a lot of people — mostly, I think, because they’ve forgotten. This is not to put Hendrix down, but I like Allman’s varied influences. I could have also mentioned Hendrix’s wahwah playing that revolutionized guitar playing. You are right, they are quite different. But I think it is totally wrong to call Allman mostly important as a slide player. Just because he was amazingly great on it doesn’t take away from his other work.

      But I don’t seriously mean to compare the two guitarists. There is no such thing as better and I will always enjoy listening to D Boon more than anyone else. I am just trying to push people to listen to Allman. And yes, “naughty” is not a bad description. But it also has to do with being mad for Hendrix when I was young and only slowly recognizing Allman’s brilliance over the years.

      I haven’t listened to Axis: Bold as Love in a long time. I’ll give it a listen. But no headphones!

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