Happy Birthday Duane Allman: The Story Behind ‘Layla’

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Duane Allman would have turned 69 today had he survived the tragic 1971 motorcycle accident that took his life and after all these years we still think there are few guitarists better than “Skydog.” Not only was Duane instrumental in forming The Allman Brothers Band, he also was a sought-after studio musician and contributed heavily to Derek & The Dominos’ Layla And Assorted Other Love Songs.

One of our favorite music-related films is 2003’s Tom Dowd And The Language Of Music. The documentary profiles legendary producer Tom Dowd who was behind the board for iconic albums from The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and many others. Part of the movie finds Dowd and Clapton telling the story behind the recording of “Layla.” They talk about Eric and Duane’s initial meeting, the jam session that ensued between the Dominos and Allmans and Skydog’s contributions to “Layla.”

We get to watch as Dowd sits down at a studio with the original master recordings of “Layla” which allows him to isolate the individual parts. Tom hadn’t had such an opportunity in 30 years. The producer immediately isolates Eric and Duane’s magnificent guitar work on the “Layla” solo and coda. It gives us a greater appreciation for Clapton and Allman’s immense talents. Take a look: