The Allman Brothers Band, formed in 1969 and featuring twin guitars and twin drums, created the “southern rock” genre by brilliantly mixing blues, jazz, country, and rock and roll. From their base in Macon, the Allman Brothers opened the door for other southern bands, including the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Wet Willie.
Duane Allman, guitarist and vocalist, and his brother Gregg Allman, keyboardist and vocalist, were born in Nashville, Tennessee. They moved to Florida as children, playing in various bands before forming the Allman Joys in 1965. Duane and Gregg then formed a new band, Hour Glass, in 1967 and recorded two albums in California: Hour Glass (1967) and Power of Love (1968). Back in Florida, they joined the group 31st of February in 1968. Soon, Gregg returned to California, and Duane became an in-demand session musician at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
While attempting to coax Gregg home, Duane played with the band Second Coming, from which he recruited drummer Butch Trucks, vocalist and guitarist Dickey Betts, and bassist Berry Oakley to join him in a new band. Duane also added session drummer Jaimoe Johanson. After Gregg returned, the Allman Brothers Band debuted in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 29, 1969.
In April 1969 the band’s manager, Phil Walden, convinced the musicians to move to his home base in Macon, where he was trying to launch a new record label, Capricorn Records. The group’s first album, The Allman Brothers Band, was recorded in August 1969 in New York. Then came Idlewild South (1970) and the double album At Fillmore East (1971), a live rock album that received wide critical acclaim. Both Walden and the Allman Brothers believed that the band was at its best in concert rather than in the recording studio.
During the recording of the band’s next album, Eat a Peach (1972), Duane died in a motorcycle accident in Macon. The band played at his funeral and soon thereafter resumed touring. The Allman Brothers added pianist Chuck Leavell for their next album, Brothers and Sisters (1973), which contained the hit “Ramblin’ Man.” During the recording of this album, Oakley was killed in a motorcycle crash in Macon. Lamar Williams replaced Oakley in the band.
After releasing Win, Lose, or Draw (1975) and their second live album, Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas (1976), the band broke up. Leavell, Williams, and Johanson then formed a new group, Sea Level. The Allman Brothers reformed in 1979 with guitarist Dan Toler and bassist Rook Goldflies to record Enlightened Rogues (1979), Reach for the Sky (1980), and Brothers of the Road (1981). The band separated again in 1982.
After the release of Dreams (1989), a boxed anthology, and Live at Ludlow Garage 1970 (1990), the band recorded Seven Turns (1990), its first studio album in nine years. Warren Haynes (lead guitar), Allen Woody (bass), and Johnny Neel (keyboards) replaced Goldflies and Toler. Except for Neel, the lineup continued with Shades of Two Worlds (1991). An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set (1992), their fourth live album, added Thom Doucette (harmonica) and Marc Quinones (percussion). All but Doucette recorded Where It All Begins (1994). Paul Riddle, the Marshall Tucker Band’s drummer, replaced Quinones on the fifth live album, Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set (1995). After the sixth live album, Peakin’ at the Beacon (2000), Betts was fired. Quinones returned, and Oteil Burbridge replaced Woody, who died in August 2000.
The band continued to tour in the twenty-first century with a lineup that featured Allman, Trucks, Jaimoe, Quinones, Burbridge, Haynes, and Trucks’s nephew, Derek Trucks (guitar). In 2003 the group released its final studio album, Hittin’ the Note, to critical acclaim. A live album, One Way Out, was released the following year. In 2014, after more than four decades of touring and recording, the Allman Brothers Band played its final show before a sold out audience at the Beacon Theater in New York. Tragedy struck the group once again in 2017, when founding member Butch Trucks took his own life. The band’s remaining namesake, Gregg Allman, succumbed to complications of liver cancer in Savannah later that year. He was sixty-nine.
In 1998 the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The house in Macon where various band members lived from 1970 to 1973 opened in April 2010 as the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House. The museum contains photographs, musical instruments, gold records, and other memorabilia.