I’m filled with great sadness as I write this knowing that one of my musical heroes, Gregg Allman, has passed away. The Allman Brothers Band are one of my favourite bands of all time and the world has certainly lost a visionary.
As a whole I think I tend to listen to more live recordings than I do studio albums, especially from the late 60’s and early 70’s. That period for me is second to none when it comes to live music. The places bands took music, including those listed below, have never been reached since in my opinion. At least not the same extent. So, the following are my top five live albums of all time. Enjoy.
While writing a previous article on the three nights The Allman Brothers Band played at Fillmore East in March 1971, I spoke to Willie Perkins who was the road manager for the band between 1970-76 and 1983-89. It was an honour to talk with him and I thank Willie for taking the time to answer some questions.
When was the decision made to record a live album at Fillmore East in March ’71?
Probably late 1970. The two earliest albums while well received had not met sales expectations. It was felt a live concert recording would capture the true essence of the band and it did.
Who made the decision to invite the horns to play with the band?
Horns were a band decision. The two players, friends of Jaimoe, had performed live with the band at several concerts previously.
The date was the 11th March 1971, and The Allman Brothers Band were in New York City to begin their three night stand at the legendary Fillmore East on Second Avenue near East 6th Street. Out of these shows would come the greatest live album ever released, At Fillmore East. The venue itself needs no introduction, it was simply where music royalty came to play.
For such a legendary run of shows, there really isn’t much in terms of photos and video footage from the March 1971 dates at Fillmore East. There are a few photos that have been around for a while but not as much as other shows, and considering At Fillmore East is one of the best live albums of all time, it’s mind boggling that there is such a lack of material. But this video was brought to my attention a few days ago by Mark Vormittag of the Duane Allman – Skydog Fan Page on Facebook and it appears to be (to me at least) new video footage from one of the March shows. Perhaps a few people have seen it before but I don’t think it’s been widely circulated.
Based on photos that do exist, most notably by photographer Eddie Berman, the footage is most likely from the 13th March as Duane is seen wearing the famous checked shirt. Sadly there is no audio but the video footage alone is enough to excite many fans, mainly because video footage of Duane Allman is a rare thing indeed.
This show marks Duane Allman’s third last with the band. They would go on to perform at Marietta College Gym, Marietta, Ohio the next day and Painters Mill Music Fair, Owings Mills, Maryland the day after. This bootleg contains the recordings of the band in the final stages of life before being ripped apart by the death of Duane Allman on the 29th October, 14 days later. The band would continue without him up until the present day but their sound would completely change.
As per usual in 1971, the band open with a fearsome rendition of the Blind Willie McTell song, Statesboro Blues. It’s interesting to note that Duane’s solo intro over the bands rhythm playing is almost note for note the same as the famous Fillmore performance earlier in the year. Both Duane Allman and Dickey Betts are on top form here with both trading solos while the rest of the band powers on. Berry Oakley’s bass playing is such a driving force as well, almost like a lead instrument with the two guitars.