Remembering Gregg Allman: Performing Live With The Allman Brothers Band In Pittsburgh January 1971
Gregg Allman sadly died on this date in 2017 due to complications from liver cancer. The legendary Allman Brothers Band vocalist and keyboardist was born on December 8, 1947 in Nashville and formed ABB with his brother, guitarist Duane Allman in 1969.
The Allmans would find wider national success with their Live At Filmore East album, released in the summer of 1971 and recorded at the storied New York City venue in March of that year. But ABB’s tight and fiery sound achieved on Filmore East was built on two years of hard touring. A few months before recording their landmark live record, the band found themselves at Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh where just a few months later Duane Allman would play his final show before dying tragically in a motorcycle accident.
The January 17, 1971 concert at Syria Mosque saw blues great Taj Mahal opening for ABB. Before getting underway, Gregg asks the audience to give it up for Taj saying, “This first song we’re gonna do…we learned this song from his record under his sweet guidance. So we’re gonna play this song for him this night.” ABB then launches into what would become one of their signature songs, “Statesboro Blues.”
Taj Mahal included “Statesboro Blues,” originally written by Blind Willie McTell, on his 1968 self-titled solo debut. As the story goes, Gregg gave a copy of Taj’s album to Duane for his birthday along with a bottle of Coricidin pills as Duane had a cold. Duane emptied the bottle and used it as a slide trying to mimic guitarist Jesse Ed Davis’ licks on the album. Duane and Gregg also went to see Taj Mahal, featuring Davis, around that time, furthering Duane’s obsession with the slide guitar. While Duane’s slide on “Statesboro” is now iconic, you can hear the reverence in Gregg’s voice as he talks of Taj at Syria Mosque.
The set also includes a song from another blues legend, Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More.” ABB classics like “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” and the Gregg Allman-penned “Midnight Rider” appear as well. The recording comes to a close with a well-jammed “Whipping Post” which stretched to around 20 minutes.
To remember Gregg Allman, listen to The Allman Brothers Band’s set at Pittsburgh’s Syria Mosque in January 1971 below via Duane Allman Archives:
- Statesboro Blues – 0:39
- Trouble No More – 4:55
- Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ – 8:41
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed – 11:58
- Midnight Rider – 26:14
- You Don’t Love Me – 29:01
- Whipping Post – 44:15