The Allman Brothers: “We were stretching the limits of what had been done in rock’n’roll”

Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks tell the story of their band

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Over forty years on from the death of Duane Allman, the freewheeling adventures of The Allman Brothers Band show no sign of ending. Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks help uncover a tale as long and wild as one of their legendary all-night shows. “We lived together, fucked together, did drugs together, got in trouble together,” says Trucks. “We moved as a unit. And then, we got onstage to play…” Words: Bud Scoppa. Originally published in Uncut’s February 2011 issue (Take 165).

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It had been an auspicious day for Duane Allman. After more than two years of non-stop touring, he had received and cashed his first royalty cheque, for a useful $5,000.

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As dusk was closing in over Macon, Georgia, he left The Allman Brothers Band’s Big House and swung his beloved Harley Sportster, Melissa, onto the highway. Just minutes later, according to news reports, he swerved to avoid a truck and lost control of his bike. It flipped over, pinning him beneath it, sliding down the roadway for 50 feet.

Following some distance behind, Allman’s girlfriend Dixie Meadows and Berry Oakley’s sister Candy found him lying motionless on the asphalt and stayed until an ambulance arrived. After three hours of emergency surgery at Macon Medical Center, he died that night; Friday, October 29, 1971. He was just 24 years old.

At the funeral the following Monday, the rest of the band played a bunch of the songs they’d been performing with their fallen leader during the previous two years – “Stormy Monday”, “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” and “Statesboro Blues”. Delaney Bramlett led the crowd – including Dr John and the entire Muscle Shoals rhythm section, with whom Duane had done so many memorable sessions – in a tearful rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler, meanwhile, delivered a heartfelt eulogy.

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