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Allman Brothers Band

Hailing from Macon, Georgia, the Allman Brothers Band were know as the foremost architects of Southern rock (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). The band was known for their jam or improvisational sessions and forged a new musical offshoot from several elements of music blues, jazz, soul, R&B, and rock and roll. They help advance the genre of rock and roll, along with groups like the Grateful Dead and Cream (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005).

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The Allman Brothers Band developed a type of “jam” session that required a distinct level of technical genius and musical literacy, which was somewhat new to rock and roll (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). Duane Allman, an original guitarist, and Dickey Betts broke the barrier with sensational guitar riffs and extended solos (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). This combined with front man Gregg Allman’s husky, soulful vocals drove the Allman Brothers Band to rock and roll powerhouse from their 1969 beginnings (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005).

The legendary band was formed in Jacksonville, Florida on March 26, 1969. The Allman Brothers Band was comprised of Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Jai Johanny Johanson, Butch Trucks, and Berry Oakley (Freeman, 1995). The brothers, Gregg and Duane, were in other garage bands before the Allman Brothers Band (Freeman, 1995). The Allman Brothers Band played shows throughout the south prior to the release of their debut album, the Allman Brothers Band. The critics adored the album; however, the album attracted only limited listeners and consisted of a cult audience (Freeman, 1995).

Their follow-up album, Idlewild South, was a mass success, both with critics and listeners. Idlewild South became a rather profitable album, as well. The Allman Brothers Band received a great honor of playing the last act at the Fillmore East before its closing in June 1971. These last acts also received a renowned status due to their ability to play all night long (Kimball, 1971). Gregg Allman was noted to say that it was hard to realize how long they were playing until the morning light poured in (Kimball, 1971).

In 1971, the Allman Brothers Band was virtually kicked in the groin when Duane Allman was killed in a catastrophic motorcycle crash in Macon, Georgia (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). Gregg Allman said his brother Duane was the most intense person he knew. Only a year later, on November 11, 1972, Allman Brothers Band bassist, Berry Oakley died in a similar situation – his death occurred only a few blocks from Duane’s accident site (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). The band regrouped and persevered.

A second keyboardist, Chuck Leavell, added a jazz-like dimension. Lamar Williams later replaced Oakley as the band’s bassist. The most commercially successful album came in wake of their tragic losses (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). The double album Eat a Peach reached number four on the charts. This album included Duane Allman’s last three studio performances. In 1973, Brothers and Sisters soared to number one and stayed there for five weeks, which included classics like “Blue Sky” and “Ramblin’ Man,” and lengthy pieces.

In the same year, the Allman Band, along with the Grateful Dead, performed at the Grand Prix Racecourse in front of 600,000 rock and roll fans (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). The mid-seventies proved problematic with substance abuse and internal disagreement. This triggered a two-year hiatus. However, the Gregg Allman band toured with the Dickey Betts Band in August of 1978 (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). This rejoined the Allman Brothers Band and reverted to their classic dual-guitar line up.

They would then move from Capricorn to Arista records. History repeats itself and the Allman Brothers Band disbanded again in 1982 (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). In 1989, Dreams, the box set, was released, and the band reunited for what would later become the most productive chapters in their history. With two additions, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, the band was revitalized. Their playing was as strong as ever, even dating back to the late Duane Allman and Berry Oakley (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005).

The most stable line-up in the history of the Allman Brothers Band capitalized in 1991. The septet was consisted of Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe Johanson, Warren Haynes, Allen Woody, and Marc Quinones (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). Warren Haynes passed through their ranks capturing the technique and passion of the late Duane Allman (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005).

The Allman Brothers Band released two of their most inspired albums in the early nineties, Shades of Two Worlds and Where It All Begins (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). This line-up came to an end with the departure of Haynes and Woody to their side project Government Mule (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005). In 2000, the band forced Dickey Betts to sit out for personal and professional reasons during their summer tour.

A bitter argument rose from this – Dickey Betts filled a lawsuit against the other three original members and the summer disconnection became a permanent divorce (Freeman, 1995). The band release a live album, Peakin’ At the Beacon, that chronicled the annual March tradition of a several night stand at the Beacon Theater in New York City. However, within that same year, bassist Allen Woody was found dead on August 26th. Warren Haynes began appearing with the Allman Brothers Band in 200 and rejoined full-time in 2001 (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Allman Brothers Band, 2005).

The Allman Brothers gathered back to back Grammy Award nominations in 2003 and 2004 in the category of Best Rock Instrumental for performance of “Instrumental Illness. ” The Rolling Stone magazine named Duane Allman, Warren Haynes, Dickey Betts, and Derek Trucks to their list of top 100 greatest guitarist (Kimball, 1971). Allman came in at number two, and Derek Trucks being the youngest on the list. The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for many reasons. Their influential blended rock style paved the way for Southern rock.

Their all-night, play to dawn sessions were fan favorites. Their albums were critically acclaimed and Grammy worthy. This band is legendary and according to George Kimball of Rolling Stones magazine “, This is the best damn rock and roll band this country has produced…(Kimball, 1971). References Freeman, Scott. Midnight Riders The Story of the Allman Brothers Band. 1995. Kimball, George. Fillmore East Review. Rolling Stone magazine. 1971. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Allman Brothers Band. 2005.