Har­ri­son Marsh meets an­other top slide player. This month the leg­end that is El­more James.

This month Har­ri­son Marsh ex­plores the style of one of the most in­flu­en­tial and revered slide gui­tarists the world has known.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

De­spite his trag­i­cally early death at the age of 24 in a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent in 1971, Duane All­man was a huge­ly­in­flu­en­tial gui­tarist. In fact he vir­tu­ally rev­o­lu­tionised slide gui­tar play­ing. Along with brother Gregg, the Nashville-born gui­tarist formed The All­man Broth­ers Band in 1969, hav­ing al­ready had a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a stu­dio mu­si­cian. He recorded with artists such as Aretha Franklin and fea­tured heav­ily on Eric Clapton’s Derek And The Domi­noes al­bum Layla And Other As­sorted Love Songs (1970), af­ter Clapton heard his fa­mous solo at the end of Wil­son Pick­ett’s cover of Hey Jude. While ar­guably most fa­mous for (Top Gear theme) Jes­sica, the four All­man Broth­ers albums with Duane are es­sen­tial lis­ten­ing for any­one want­ing to im­prove their slide gui­tar phras­ing (as a side note, All­man’s non-slide play­ing was ev­ery bit as in­spir­ing).

All­man started to play slide hav­ing heard Taj Ma­hal’s ver­sion of States­boro Blues, a song that would later be a high­light of the At Fill­more East (1971) live al­bum. The Co­ri­cidin pain killer bot­tle he first used as a slide af­ter sus­tain­ing an in­jury would be­come a sig­na­ture of his, em­u­lated by many other play­ers.

Rolling Stone put Duane All­man at #2 on their list of the Top 100 Gui­tarists, sec­ond only to Jimi Hendrix. De­spite an im­pres­sive stu­dio cat­a­logue in a rel­a­tively short ca­reer, it was live that All­man shone bright­est, with Live At Fill­more East ar­guably the band’s finest hour.

All­man’s phras­ing was at times fast and com­plex, al­ways with a unique voice. Mostly us­ing open E tun­ing, he could still play ef­fec­tively in a wide range of keys. He also used the whole neck of the gui­tar, in­clud­ing be­yond the pick­ups (as can be heard on the fa­mous Layla solo). All­man loved to in­ter­twine his lead lines with those of Clapton or Dickey Betts. As well as his fa­mous abil­ity at im­pro­vis­ing, he was mas­ter­ful at cre­at­ing hooks and riffs, with and with­out slide.

Duane’s slide play­ing alone makes The All­man Broth­ers es­sen­tial lis­ten­ing for any gui­tarist, but with both Derek Trucks and War­ren Haynes play­ing with the band, al­beit years af­ter All­man’s death, the group and its fab­u­lous gui­tarists re­main one of the big­gest in­flu­ences on mod­ern slide gui­tar.

rolling stone put duane all­man at #2 on their list of the top 100 gui­tarists ever, sec­ond only to jimi hendrix

NEXT MONTH Har­ri­son ex­am­ines the play­ing of a real in­no­va­tor, the leg­endary El­more James

Duane All­man was one of slide’s most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures

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