Duane Allman, of course, came into Muscle Shoals and wanted a gig. So he put up his pup tent on my parking lot at the studio and found me. I gave him his shot.
When Duane showed up, he was probably one of the first guys with long hair and kind of the hippie look, but what really made him stand out was he was a wonderful guitar player.
I had never heard a slide guitar played like Duane Allman could play it.
Duane had been in Los Angeles, had a group called the Hourglass with his brother Gregg.
They signed us on this big contract, and, uh, they wouldn't let us play anywhere. I think the first year we were there, we played like, three concerts. So he finally said "Hey, I've had it with this place. I'm... I'm leaving." And he wound up in Muscle Shoals. But, uh, right before he left, I talked him into going horseback riding with me, 'cause we weren't doing anything. Finally I went out there and I said "Listen, we go from the barn out to the field. We got to cross a paved road." I said "The horse is shod." He says "What?". "It's got shoes on, you know? And if he slips, he'll bust both of your butts, so don't give him any reins." And guess what happened? And he hit it right here.
[indicating his elbow]
He couldn't play. And he wouldn't let me in his house for about six weeks. And, I mean, that was... that was terrible, 'cause, I mean, you know, growing up without a father, he was somewhat of a father figure to me, even though he was only a year and 18 days older. So it came his birthday, November the 20th, and I went out and bought the first Taj Mahjal record and a bottle of Coricidin pills. He had this cold and he had his arm in a sling. He was pissed off at the world, and I did what I could do. I put it down in front of his door, I had it wrapped up and everything. And I knocked on the door and ran. I guess about two and half hours later, my phone rings and it's him. He says "Get over here, baybrah, quick!" And "baybrah", he called me that, "baby brother", uh... endearing handle he had for me. He said "Man, check this out." He had been listening to Jesse Ed Davis play Taj Mahal and he's playing slide. He said "Man, I dumped out all them pills, and I washed the label off that... the bottle." He said "Check this out." And he's got his hand still in the sling and he's going...
[imitates slide guitar playing]
You know, and he's just already killing it, you know? I've still got that bottle, by the way, somehow.
[about working for Rick Hall] That was very frustrating and hard on the musicians, because you think "Well, I already did that."
Nobody ever worked in the music business without getting their ass kicked. If they did, they're on the street somewhere pushing a wheelbarrow of concrete.
He was kind of like a task master, and I don't fault him for that because he is an imperfect perfectionist. That's what made him great, though.
When Duane came here, he was on the Wilson Pickett session that we did.
There was always a slight problem when we would go out, all of us white boys with a black artist, that we'd get looks, okay? But there was nothing as bad as going out with a long-haired hippie with us white boys. They couldn't stand that, right? And so both of them stayed back.
So, they went on lunch break and my brother went up to Wilson and he said, uh, "Man, why don't you cut 'Hey Jude', you know, that Beatles song?"
And at that point, I was mostly trying to create an original career Wilson Pickett, right? My songs.
Pickett and I, in unison, both said "Look, are you crazy? We're gonna cover the Beatles?" And, of course, Duane said "Exactly."
While we were gone, Duane changed our whole session. When you get to the vamp, it goes into just an unbelievable groove. Duane Allman was playing such great guitar fills that something happened in that vamp. And all of a sudden, there was southern rock. That was the beginnings of the Allman Brother Band.
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