Monday, October 30, 2006

Duane Allman - RIP - 35 years ago

Earlier this week marked the the 35th anniversary of the death of Duane Allman. Duane was one of the seminal guitar players of this generation and a big influence on my playing. When I was a freshman in college my good friend Pete Bardolph introduced me to one of the great albums of all time – The Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore East. (I mention it in my list of 10 albums that changed me.) This double album, full of jams and songs from two nights in NYC was exactly what I needed to start to think of the lead guitar in more melodic terms. The dual leads of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts were inspirational and exciting. This lead me to experience the blues in a whole new way.

Duane then appeared on one of the other albums that shaped my early college years; Layla by Derek and the Dominoes. Duane’s playing alongside Eric Clapton’s lifted the album to where it became a touchpoint not only for Clapton’s career but for a whole generation of guitar players. Known to some as “Skydog,” Allman was best known for his slide playing. He is still perhaps the best slide player of the past 40 years perhaps only matched by Derek Trucks, the nephew of one of Allman’s fellow players in the Allman Brothers Band. But Duane was an important player to many of us who learned about playing the blues by trying to play like he did.

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