The Allstar Allman Brothers
2 July 2021-
On the anniversary of their 10th album Shades of Two Worlds, we take a look back on the incredible journey the legendary Allman Brothers Band went through on their way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
On this very day 30 years ago, the Allman Brothers Band released their 10th studio album, Shades of Two Worlds. The second album born out of their third incarnation, it cemented the legacy of the band further, proving — if that was still necessary — how important the band was and had been in the history of blues, rock and music in general in the latter half of the 20th century. Despite incredible hurdles, including the fact that one of the two namesake brothers barely survived long enough to witness the band’s early success, it was nonetheless inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, a testament to how highly their work was effectively regarded.
And it might have never happened: for starters, brothers Duane and Gregg Allman failed at their initial attempt at a music career, as many successful people do (and will keep on doing). Their first proper band, Hour Glass, produced 2 unsuccessful albums for a Los Angeles label. Then came a phase of solo activity for the Allman siblings, with Duane becoming a session musician in famed music city Muscle Shoals. After getting frustrated by that experience, he started putting together a new band for a new sound, eventually convincing his brother to come back and join as lead singer. And the Allman Brothers Band was born — so to speak.
But that is nowhere near the end of the story: the new band released 2 more unsuccessful albums. But, although sales were far from what the brothers would have hoped for, critics tended to support the outfit, which was a (good) start. Then came an intense touring schedule, which helped the band reach some degree of notoriety. But, more importantly, it made the musicians realize that they were at their very best when in a live setting, rather than in a recording studio. That is how At Fillmore East came to be, their third, and finally successful album.
Successful is not quite the term, actually: not only did it sell extremely well, but it almost immediately became a blues rock classic, reinventing the genre in the process. Here were a couple of white musicians playing the blues with a rock intensity that was very much on par with what Led Zeppelin were doing in the UK, invigorating the Southern blues music scene for decades to come (see: Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top). And it became one of the definitive live albums, before Peter Frampton or Kiss would try and replicate the formula. That would have (finally) been the start of a remarkable story — but that is also tragically when band leader Duane Allman passed away in a brutal biking accident at age 24…
Thankfully, this was not the end of the Allman Brothers Band. Instead, they kept on working, touring and recording with Gregg Allman as de facto leader, releasing several more albums before calling it quits in 1976. Then picking their instruments up again a couple of years later… until 1982. Then, finally, from 1989 till 2014, after which the band was finally no more. Which left the remaining Allman to work on solo projets until his death in 2017. Safe in the knowledge that he and his brother were very much in the musical history books…