October 29, 1971 – Duane “Skydog” Allman was born November 20th 1946 in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1960, Duane was motivated to take up the guitar by the example of his younger brother, Gregg. In the twelve years that followed until his sadly untimely passing, he left a great body of work and a legacy as one of the best rock guitar players ever.
He and his brother Gregg played in several bands while in school before forming the Escorts which eventually became the Allman Joys. In 1965, the Allman Joys went on the road, performing throughout the Southeast and eventually based themselves in Nashville and St. Louis.
After a short stint with The Hour Glass, he was hired by FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1966 when he was just 19, to play on an album with Wilson Pickett’s Hey Jude album. During his time under contract to Muscle Shoals, he played on recordings by artists like Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Boz Scaggs, Laura Nyro, Otis Rush, King Curtis, Herbie Mann, and more. It was when he performed on Wilson Pickett’s cover of “Hey Jude” in 1968 that he first attracted major notice for his skills. The first time Allman played with Aretha was in New York City in January 1969. While there, he went to see Johnny Winter at the Fillmore East, and remarked to fellow Muscle Shoals guitarist Jimmy Johnson that in a year, he’d be on that stage.
Sure enough, that December, the Allman Brothers Band played the Fillmore East for the first time, and in March 1971 they recorded their now-legendary live album At Fillmore East there. He was noted for his mastery of the slide guitar as well as intensity and soulfulness on “standard” lead and rhythm guitar.
On March 26th 1969, Duane on slide guitar and lead guitar and Gregg on organ and vocals, formed The Allman Brothers band, along with Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson. Their debut album, The Allman Brothers Band, was pure blues- based rock and was recorded in New York in September 1969 and released a couple months later was followed by intense touring. Their debut album included classic hit and lifelong concert highlight, “Whipping Post.”
The Allman Brothers second album, Idlewild South was released in 1970 and contained more acoustic elements. It also had a Gregg Allman composition, “Midnight Rider,” which grew to be one of the band’s most loved songs.
They went on to become one of the most influential rock groups of the 1970s. In the meantime, Duane also did some work with Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos, being featured on rock classic “Layla” and still worked occasionally as a session musician. Their Double live album, At Fillmore East was to become their major breakthrough. Released in 1971, it sold steadily and earned The Allman Brothers Band their first gold record on 25th of October. Only four days later disaster struck when Duane Allman got into fatal motorcycle accident.
He lost control of his Harley Sportster while trying to swing left, striking the back of the truck or its crane ball. The day was October 29, 1971 and at age 24 the world of Rock lost one of its guitar icons.