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Allman Brothers Band

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The Allman Brothers Band is a pioneering and innovative Southern rock group, originally popular in the 1970s in Macon, Georgia.

The band was formed in 1969, consisting of Duane Allman[?] (guitar), Gregg Allman[?] (vocals, organ), Dickey Betts[?] (guitar), Berry Oakley[?] (bass guitar), Butch Trucks[?] (drums) and Jaimoe Johanny Johanson[?] (drums). The actual Allman Brothers, Duane and Gregg, had originally been in a garage band[?] called the Escorts, then the Allman Joys and finally the Hour Glass. The Hour Glass had released two failed albums from Liberty Records[?], and then lost their record contract. Duane Allman, then a session guitarist in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, gave in to Phil Walden[?] (former manager of Otis Redding) and formed the Allman Brothers Band. Walden signed them to his fledgling Capricorn Records[?] label.

The Allman Brothers Band played numerous concerts in the south before releasing their debut album, The Allman Brothers Band[?]. Critics loved it, but the blues-rock album found few listeners, attracting only a cult audience. Idlewild South[?] (1970), the followup, produced by Tom Dowd[?], was a massive critical success, and managed to be quite lucrative, as well. By this time, the band's long, epic jams were becoming commonplace in studio records, making many of the songs a unique mixture of jazz, classical music, heavy metal and blues. 1971 saw the release of a live album, Live at Fillmore East, recorded earlier that year at the Fillmore East[?]. The album was another huge hit, and is now remembered as one of the best blues-rock albums of all time. Duane Allman died not long after the album was certified gold, killed in a motorcycle accident. Dickey Betts filled Duane's former role in completing the last album he participated in, Eat a Peach[?]. Chuck Leavell[?], a pianist, was added to replace Allman. Not long after the release of Eat a Peach, Oakley died in another motorcycle accident at the same site as Duane Allman's death (corner of Forsyth Road and Zebulon Road in Macon). He was replaced by Lamar Williams[?], who was on board in time to finish the next album, Brothers and Sisters[?] (1973). The album marked a shift of direction towards country music, due partially to the loss of Tom Dowd as well as the increasing influence of Dickey Betts, who soon became the bandleader. Brothers and Sisters included the group's best known hit, "Ramblin' Man". The album was accessible and laid-back, and the band was bigger than ever.

In the wake of the Allman Brothers Band's success, other Southern rock groups sprang up, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot[?]. Personality conflicts continued to tear the band apart, however. Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts both began solo careers, while Allman married Cher twice; drug abuse took its toll on the entire band. The tension resulted in the uneven Win, Lose Or Draw[?], with some members not participating or doing so only from afar. The band still managed to limp along until 1976, when Gregg Allman was arrested on federal drug charges and agreed to testify against a friend and employee of the band. Leavall, Johanson and Williams formed Sea Level[?], while Betts worked on his solo career. All four swore that they would never work with Allman again. Capricorn Records released numerous albums of previously unreleased material and live albums, some of which actually sold reasonably well.

The group reformed in 1978 and released Rogues[?] (1979) and featured new members Dan Toler[?] (guitar), who replaced Chuck Leavell who (with Lamar Williams) refused to join the band. The Allman Brothers Band was no longer as popular though, and financial woes plagued both the group and Capricorn Records, which collapsed in 1979. PolyGram Records[?] took over the catalogue, and the Allman Brothers Band signed to Arista Records. The band began releasing a series of critically-slammed albums, and fired Jaimoe, drifting along throughout the 1980s without much of an audience.

1989 saw a return to popular consciousness for the Allman Brothers Band, spurred by the release of archival material by PolyGram. Warren Haynes[?] (guitar) and Allen Woody[?] (bass guitar) joined, while Leavell and Williams remained apart; the former on tour with the Rolling Stones, and Lamar Williams dead from cancer in 1983. After signing to Epic Records[?], the band released Seven Turns[?] (1990), which got excellent reviews. This has been followed by a series of moderately-selling albums and popular tours across the United States and overseas.

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