Happy Birthday Duane Allman: Performing Live With The Allman Brothers Band In 1970
Legendary guitarist Duane Allman was born in Nashville on this date in 1946. Duane followed stints in short-lived groups the Allman Joys and Hour Glass by working as a session musician in Nashville, Muscle Shoals and New York City. In 1969, he co-founded The Allman Brothers Band, an act that quickly gained notoriety for their incendiary live shows. Sadly, Duane was killed at the age of 24 due to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. Allman’s career may not have been long but he left quite a legacy as one of the best guitarists to ever walk this planet.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much footage of the guitarist nicknamed “Skydog” that circulates publicly. The JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA) contains over 200 The Allman Brothers Band videos. However, just a handful are from the Duane’s time in the group. While footage captured at Fillmore East in 1970 for a PBS special is the highest quality when it comes to audio and video, it’s film of a “Mountain Jam” from a festival earlier in the year that gives the best display of Duane Allman at his finest.
The Allman Brothers Band spent nearly all of 1970 on the road with 181 concerts documented by the ABBase. So the original lineup of Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks were firing on all cylinders when they headlined the Love Valley Festival in Love Valley, North Carolina on July 17 and 19, 1970.
Estimates on attendance at the “Woodstock Of The South” vary from 75,000 – 250,000. Thankfully, cameras were rolling when the ABB began what turned out to be a +30-minute “Mountain Jam” during their set at Love Valley on July 17, 1970. While the footage may not be pristine, the performance sure is. Skydog shows off both the rhythm and lead guitar work that made him a star.
“Mountain Jam” is loosely based on Donovan’s “First There Is A Mountain” and was a staple of The Allman Brothers Band repertoire throughout Skydog’s final years. The drum and bass solos at Love Valley are followed by an outrageous slide guitar solo from Duane that starts around the 15-minute mark. He tore it up on his Les Paul and at one point led the group on an instrumental excursion through “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” Duane provided a master class on dynamics, which can be viewed below: