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45 Years Ago: Duane Allman Dies

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In two short years, guitarist Duane Allman racked up an impressive catalog of songs, both with the Allman Brothers Band and as a studio musician. When he died on Oct. 29, 1971, he left behind an extensive collection of work that includes records with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Aretha Franklin, Laura Nyro and Wilson Pickett.

Duane first started playing music with his brother Gregg in the early ‘60s. By 1965 the Allman Joys were a touring band that eventually became the L.A.-based Hour Glass. During this period, he became an in-demand session guitarist at the legendary Muscle Shoals, Ala., recording studio, working with Franklin, Pickett, Boz Scaggs and many others. His slide guitar playing became an integral part of many of the R&B recordings that came out of the studio during this era.

In 1968 the Nashville-born Allman relocated to Florida, formed the Allman Brothers Band and pretty much set the template for southern rock music as we know it. The group’s third album, 1971’s live At Fillmore East, made them FM radio stars. And Allman’s influential work with Eric Clapton on Derek and the DominosLayla and Other Assorted Love Songs the year before made him one of rock’s premier guitarists.

The Allman Brothers were working on their third studio album when Allman took his motorcycle for a spin in Macon, Ga. He was speeding when he crashed into a truck stopped at an intersection. He was only 24. His legacy spans “Free Bird” (which Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote in tribute) to Derek Trucks, the hotshot guitarist who played with the Allmans and fronts his own band fueled by Duane Allman-inspired leads.

The Allman Brothers Band Breakup: One Year Later

This Day in Rock History: October 29

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Next: Top 10 Duane Allman Studio Sessions

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