Originally published in Guitar World, July 2009
They’ve suffered breakups, addiction and death. But 40 years on, the Allman Brothers Band remain a force to be reckoned with. In this exclusive oral history, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts and others tell the story behind rock and roll’s enlightened rogues.
"The Road Goes on Forever.” Gregg Allman wrote and sang the words in “Midnight Rider,” and his Allman Brothers Band (ABB) adopted them as a motto, and for good reason: despite the death of two founding members, two breakups and an acrimonious parting with guitarist Dickey Betts, this summer the band is marking its 40th anniversary and doing so in high style.
Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, who have now played together for nine years in the ABB, form a dynamic, explosive duo that blows away the competition. In that respect, some things in the Allman Brothers Band never change.
The road for the ABB began in 1968 when Duane Allman, a red-hot session guitarist who had made his mark recording with Otis Rush, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin and others, headed to Jacksonville, Florida, looking to put together a band. His manager wanted a power trio—just like Cream—but Duane reportedly scoffed at the notion, saying, “I ain’t on no star trip.” It was a revealing statement, for the group that resulted from Duane’s quest for kindred musical souls was anything but ego-driven. The music of the Allman Brothers Band has revolved around group improvisation and dynamics since their self-titled 1969 debut.
Duane’s musical vision and open mind allowed him to ignore protocol and put together a completely unique hard-rocking outfit featuring two very different but complementary drummers (Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson and Butch Trucks), an inventive bassist who could hold down the