The All­man Broth­ers Band

This month Martin Cooper un­veils the rock­ier side of a leg­endary band of true feel play­ers, the hugely in­flu­en­tial All­man Broth­ers Band.

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Rock -

Formed in Jack­sonville, Florida in 1969, the All­man Broth­ers Band is one of those quintessen­tially ‘south­ern’ rock bands along with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival. Con­sist­ing of Duane and Gregg All­man (gui­tars and key­boards re­spec­tively), Dickey Betts (gui­tar), Berry Oak­ley (bass) and drum­mers Butch Trucks and Jai Jo­hanny Jo­han­son, the band was one of the fore­run­ners of the south­ern rock sound of the 70s, which in­cor­po­rated el­e­ments of coun­try, blues, folk and rock’n’roll. Gregg All­man once com­mented that the genre is so ‘south­ern’ that “call­ing it south­ern rock is like call­ing it ‘rock rock’”.

As well as con­tain­ing many south­ern traits and themes, bands such as the All­mans con­trib­uted to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Jimmy Carter in 1980, al­though Ron­ald Rea­gan beat Carter in the elec­tion. Nonethe­less mu­sic and pol­i­tics were of­ten walk­ing along­side each other down many av­enues of Amer­i­can life.

Look back in time though and the rock his­tory books show that Duane All­man lost his life in a tragic mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent in 1971, at just 24 years of age. De­spite his early demise and short ca­reer, All­man achieved such ac­claim that he was ranked at num­ber 2 on Rolling Stone mag­a­zine’s list of the world’s 100 great­est gui­tarists in 2003, with only Jimi Hen­drix scor­ing more highly. Shock­ingly, just a year af­ter All­man’s death, Berry Oak­ley was also killed in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent and Chuck Leavell and La­mar Wil­liams re­placed the pair. The band ac­tu­ally hit the top of their commercial suc­cess af­ter these events with their Broth­ers & Sis­ters al­bum in 1973, but of course Duane and Berry re­main in the hearts of All­man Broth­ers Band fans to this day.

Af­ter first dis­band­ing in 1976, the sec­ond in­car­na­tion of the band re­formed at the end of the decade, be­fore dis­solv­ing again in 1982. How­ever, they re­formed in 1989 and still tour to this day, with the in­clu­sion of su­perb gui­tarists War­ren Haynes and Derek Trucks (nephew of drum­mer Butch Trucks).

This month’s piece is a mix­ture of blues and rock and is based largely around a 12-bar chord pro­gres­sion in C ma­jor, but with lots of dom­i­nant 7 and 9 sound­ing chords. It’s not too tricky to play, but you’ll need to fo­cus a lot on tone, tim­ing and phras­ing to make it au­then­ti­cally ‘south­ern’ in style and sound.

The solo uses the C mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale (C Eb F B Bb) and some nice string bends and vi­brato. It’s not fast or flash, but will present a few chal­lenges, more to do with feel and phras­ing than out-and-out tech­nique.

In 2003 Duane All­man was sec­ond only to Jimi Hen­drix in Rolling Stone mag­a­zine’s 100 great­est gui­tarists of all time list.

War­ren Haynes and Dickey Betts of The All­mans

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