August 15, 2009

The Allmans & The Dead

"I love the Dead. As far as Jerry Garcia, Jerry Garcia could walk on water. He could do anything any man could ever do. He's a prince."
--Duane Allman

The two bands first met at the 7/7/69 Atlanta show, a free concert after the first Atlanta Pop festival - the Dead wouldn't have heard the Allmans, who'd just formed a few months before, but the Allmans were becoming popular as a local Atlanta band, and they had been fans of the Dead at least since seeing the 12/29/68 Miami Pop Festival show - whether by coincidence, their lineup (two drummers, two guitarists, organ & bass) was the same as the Dead's, but their music went in a different direction (I think Dickey Betts said their biggest influences were Cream and Hendrix). After the Dead's show, Garcia jammed with Duane Allman and many other musicians.

Their paths didn't cross again til the Fillmore East Feb '70 shows, where the Allmans (still relatively unknown) played on 2/11 and 2/14. (The other band on the bill was Love - Bear wasn't impressed with Love, but it's said that Arthur Lee added percussion to the 2/11 Dark Star. Bear also taped the other bands, so the Allmans were able to use his tape to release their "Fillmore East Feb '70" CD in 1997.)
Bear has this to say about encountering the Allmans: "In the summer of 1969 we played at a pop festival in a park in Atlanta. We had been hearing about a local band from Macon called the Allman Brothers Band, and someone brought members of the band over to meet us. As I recall they didn't play at that time [or the Dead just missed their show], so we didn't hear their music until their first record came out that fall. So when we were booked into the Fillmore East on a triple bill with the Allman Brothers, I was very pleased and looked forward to the shows with anticipation, as I had heard their record and liked the band.... There was a wonderful feeling at these concerts that made the shows a lot of fun for us all."
The jam on 2/11 is, of course, legendary. Members of Fleetwood Mac also joined in (even though they were not on the bill, and weren't even playing in New York!) - Peter Green had been a fan of the Dead since playing a run at the Carousel with them in June 1968; in fact he had just played some shows with them in New Orleans. Fleetwood Mac had started out as a strictly-blues band, but under the corrupting influence of the Dead, by early '70 they were doing long rock jams (as we can hear on their Boston Tea Party CDs, which were recorded just the week before, on Feb 5-7).

The Allmans & Dead next met at the 5/10/70 Atlanta show, where they each played and then joined in a jam of Mountain Jam>Will the Circle Be Unbroken. No tape survives. (Deadlists notes that the Dead had to borrow the Allmans' gear as theirs hadn't arrived, so possibly the show couldn't have been taped anyway.)

The Mountain Jam theme, of course, is based on Donovan's 1967 single "There is a Mountain". There has been some confusion over how both bands came to play this theme - it's even been printed that Duane first jammed it with the Dead at the Fillmore East! This is nonsense. It was one of the Allmans' earliest tunes, and shows up in a May '69 concert. I haven't seen an interview stating whether they took the idea from the Dead, or independently based the jam on Donovan's song, which is a heck of a catchy tune. The melody shows up on Anthem of the Sun, at the 9:00 point in Alligator....but it's over within 20 seconds. I don't think it's likely Duane would have taken this one little part to build a jam theme, unless he recognized "hey, that's the Donovan song - we can do something with that...."

Duane met the band again on the evening of 11/21/70, after each band had played a show. Garcia and Weir were playing a short acoustic set at a Boston radio show (Pigpen was also there, but didn't play anything). Duane showed up, but hadn't brought a guitar - so he borrowed an acoustic. Some of it is on youtube - here Duane plays a short bit of the instrumental Anji. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xr_qVfRkcw
Duane also appeared at the 4/26/71 Fillmore East show, but only played on three songs.

By summer '72 both bands had become huge and were filling stadiums. After some of the Allmans had played at the Dead's 7/16/72 show, the Dead returned the favor by showing up at the Allmans' 7/17/72 Gaelic Park show, and Garcia and Weir joined the band in Mountain Jam. A poor audience tape apparently exists - I'd love to hear it.

Then they co-headlined two nights in June '73 at the RFK Stadium - I think it was Dead / Allmans on June 9 and Allmans / Dead on June 10. Everyone knows the 6/10 jam; but in the Allmans' 6/9 show, Bob Weir and Ronnie Montrose joined the band for the Mountain Jam. There is a SBD of the show, which I haven't heard.

The two bands played again at the Watkins Glen festival, July 27-28 '73, along with the Band. The Allmans' "soundcheck" on 7/27 was apparently just a few songs, but the Dead gave a set that's become more popular than the actual show the next day! As at Monterey & Woodstock, the Dead wouldn't allow any of their music to be released (though Latvala has said that the 7/28 master reels are so full of glitches they're unusable, and he wasn't too thrilled with the show quality either). The Band's 7/28 show was theoretically released on their "Live at Watkins Glen" CD - but it turns out the music on the CD has almost no relation to the show they actually played! The Allmans closed out the festival, and the Not Fade Away/Mountain jam encore is actually the end of their set, hours after the Dead played.
Here's a page with the story behind the festival - pointing out that the idea for the show had started with the 7/16/72 jam: http://www.superseventies.com/watkinsglen.html

The biggest jam of all took place at the Allmans' 12/31/73 San Francisco show - it was one of the rare New Years where the Dead didn't play, so the Allmans filled in. Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, and Boz Scaggs came on mid-show to jam on Whipping Post>Linda Lou>Hideaway>Bo Diddley, then ended the show with a giant You Don't Love Me>Will the Circle Be Unbroken>Mountain Jam. The show is up in three parts at Wolfgang's Vault: http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/pf/the-allman-brothers-band/7096.html

Duane and Berry Oakley both died while the Dead were on the road - Duane on 10/29/71 (the Dead were in Cleveland), and Berry on 11/11/72 (the Dead started the tour in Kansas City the next day). But the Allmans rolled on.... As Gregg said in '73, "I've had guys come up to me and say, 'Man, it just doesn't seem like losing those two fine cats affected you people at all.' Why? Because I still have my wits about me? Because I can still play? Well that's the key right there. We'd all have turned into fucking vegetables if you hadn't been able to get out there and play."

Garcia had a few words to say about the Allmans in a 1973 article:

'In the case of the amazing Watkins Glen Festival in New York this past July, the Dead and the Allmans were joined by the Band. The original idea for these supershows started over a year ago when a full length, cross-country tour with the Allman Brothers was booked into some of America's largest stadiums. The two bands have been long time friends, going back to the days the members of the groups first met each other backstage at the Fillmore East. Both bands were set to hop on planes to begin the tour last fall when Allman bassist Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident just a few days before their opening show in Houston, Texas. The joint tour was cancelled until this past summer, when the Allmans and the Dead made an appearance at the RFK Stadium in Washington. The RFK Stadium appearance made concert history. Ticketron, the computer network covering the eastern coast, reported that tickets to the Dead-Allmans concert were snapped up as far away as Montreal, Canada. More than 80,000 seats were sold for the two consecutive concerts.
Garcia waxed ecstatic about the experience, saying he couldn't have been more at home with The Allmans.
"It's kind of like playing with us the way we were five years ago," Jerry laughs. "Musically and set-up wise, they're kind of similar to the way we used to be. They especially sounded like us when they were the original Allman Brothers. They had two drummers, two guitars, organ and bass . . . exactly the instrumentation we had (when drummer Mickey Hart and organist-vocalist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan were in the band).
"In fact, Dickey and the guys had flashed on our music when we played at a festival in Florida about five or six years ago. We really inspired them and they've patterned a lot of their trip after us. They're like a younger, Southern version of us in some ways musically. I really enjoy playing with those guys, they're fun to play with. They're good."
Although there are definite plans afoot to release an album of a monumental Dead-Allmans jam-session early next year, the first release of the Grateful Dead Records label will be the long-awaited Grateful Dead studio album....'

It's interesting to read that they were already thinking of releasing the Dead/Allmans jams - even in recent years, a box set of their June '73 shows reported to be in the works is still in limbo. I don't think Garcia played with the Allmans again after '73.

19 comments:

  1. Nice post. I myself have long been intrigued by the relationship, shared sorrows, and coincidences between the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead. Both bands were simpatico and loved the other. Both bands had started out playing and recording the same songs even. We all know that the Grateful Dead recorded Morning Dew for their first album. Duane & Gregg Allman also did a recording of Morning Dew. Both bands had done "You Don't Love Me". Both bands played "Mountain Jam". Both bands were considered "house bands" for the Fillmores. Both bands closed a Fillmore venue, the Allmans at Fillmore East in June '71 and the Dead at Fillmore West in July of '71. Both bands lost original members around the same time, Duane in October of '71, Berrie Oakley in November '72 and Pigpen in March '73. Both bands were bound together through the psychedelic experience. The Allmans went to the extreme of having every band getting a mushroom tattoo put on them. The Dead, of course, had the "Acid Tests" and Owsley as part of the experience.
    I first saw the Allman Brothers in 1969, three days before their show in Atlanta that the Grateful Dead played at too. I saw them on 7/4/69 and the Atlanta show was 7/7/69. I saw The Grateful Dead in April of 1970 for the first time. Since then, both bands have been my favorite bands. My two favorite lead guitarists, Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman played for these two bands.
    I think the thing about "Mountain Jam" is coincidence though. I suspect that both Jerry & Duane both simply loved the melody of this song and both wrote beautiful musical themes on Donovan's composition. It (Donovan's) was a big song in 1967 and all over the radio. Everybody heard it.
    As far as the guys from the Allman's getting inspiration from seeing the Grateful Dead on 12/29/68, I believe it. I have read interviews in the past at how the future Allman's were doing a two drummer thing during jam sessions at this time and loving it. When they saw The Grateful Dead in Florida in '68 at the Hollywood Fest they were floored. They heard how a two drummer attack sounded live and knew they were on the right track.
    Contrary to popular belief, the Allman Brothers were not a Georgia band. They were from Florida and only later moved to Georgia. Duane & Gregg were from Tennessee and were raised in military schools after their father was murdered. The family later moved to Florida. Gregg & Duane were reform school kids raised by a widowed mother. They had a tough past. They were playing together in various forms (minus Gregg) during this period in late '68 until March of '69 when they officially formed. Probably the only integrated band in the South at the time too.
    They were the "Grateful Dead Of The South". and it is only fitting that the two bands should have met.
    As for Watkins Glen, I read Jerry one time saying that the best music was played in the trailer back stage, when the guys and the Allmans would get high and jam. Nobody recorded that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment. I've read speculation that the Allman brothers must have seen the Dead when they were in Los Angeles (as the Hour Glass) in '67/68; but since I don't have an Allmans bio onhand, can't confirm that....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post, thanks for the insights. That Watkins Glend soundcheck is indeed a thing of beauty. The parts of the set with Dickey Betts onstage (NFA maybe?) i remember being very cool, and very much reminds me of the jam on the Allman's 'Blue Sky' where Duane and Dickey trade solos. Very melodic playing. Garcia and Betts do very well together in this vein, IMHO.

    Thanks again for this great blog!

    ReplyDelete
  4. NFA was usually the default jam-song when the Dead & Allmans played together - I especially like the one on 7/16/72. Mountain Jam is also a tune that Garcia was born to play....it's a pity he didn't sit in with the Allmans more often! There are only a few live Blue Skies from Duane's last months, it's pretty awesome - we can only imagine what a Blue Sky (or the Clementine-like Dreams) with Garcia might've been!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Funny. I was at the Sunday show in DC. 14 at the time and was lovin it seeing my two favorite bands in such a great and in to it setting. Unreal!

    ReplyDelete
  6. As one of my earlier posts, this one strikes me today as being quite brief! Someday I'll have to go back & put in show links and a little music description. But anyway...

    David Lemieux has said that the 4/26/71 Beat It On Down the Line with Duane Allman was almost included on the Ladies & Gentlemen set, but had to be dropped due to a lawsuit.

    Kirk West, Allmans archivist: "We were working on a package from the RFK and Watkins Glen ('73) shows... We went through them and edited them and pieced them together. We were going to do a four-CD release: two Dead, two Brothers. And then the Brothers jammed with the Dead on their first encore and the Dead jammed with the Brothers on their second encore - and Weir jammed with the Brothers in the middle of one of the shows [6/9]... Then shortly after that, the Brothers sued Polygram, and things got jumbled up. The lawsuits aren't quite resolved yet. Once they are, we'd like to finally get it out.
    ...We were able to get [the 4/26/71] Sugar Magnolia for the Duane box; that's also tied up in a lawsuit... On the tapes that are floating around - you can't hear Duane hardly at all, but he's all over it.. Duane was hot in the signal the whole time [on the multitrack]; he just wasn't mixed right [on the circulating tape]...
    There's two lawsuits: one involving the Allman Brothers, and one involving Duane and Polygram Records... They're in the process but they're slow. There's a royalty situation to be resolved. Too bad because these projects were ready for the artwork. Two four-CD box sets. It's been all tied up for three years now."
    This interview was 10 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  7. There's an illuminating post on the 5/10/70 Atlanta show here, with a photo and more accurate details than deadlists:
    http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2011/03/gd19700510-sunday-may-10-1970-atlanta.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. One other Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers Band pairing of sorts.... On July 3, 2003 at the Gorge, in George, Washington. The Allmans opened for the Dead/Other Ones (featuring Warren Haynes). I was there. I know it's not like the old days, but in many ways, it was. To me, it was the first pairing of the two in thirty years. And what a great night of music it was.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jeff Kaplan writes:
    "Feb 13, 1970 early show was my first Dead show. I had no idea who the Allmans were (nor did most people) but remember thinking that they were amazing. Garcia and Pigpen sat in seats right in front of us for the Allmans set."

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've come across a couple non-complimentary quotes from Allmans members talking about the Dead. It seems that some other guys in the Allmans were not as enthusiastic about the Dead as the guitarists were...

    (I'll have to break them up into a few comments due to the length restriction.)

    First, Butch Trucks, when asked about jam-bands in 2006:
    "There are all kinds of bands who can play a song for an hour. The problem is that most of them are just doing an hour of noodling. I am most proud that we took a blues based form of rock and blues – with a touch of country – I think we lost what the Allman Brothers were all about when we got too country. Now we have really made an effort to go back and focus on the jazz. When we started the band Jaimo brought in Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Roland Kirk. None of us had ever spent much time listening to these guys. We would all get stoned out of our gourds and put on one of their albums and it just blew us away. We were all good enough where we could comprehend what they were doing and we could get a basic approach to what they were doing.

    We made a conscious decision to stop listening to our peers during the first two or three albums. We did not listen to any rock music at all. The only thing we listened to was old blues like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and jazz. We didn’t want to have any influence from our peers. We ended up doing a lot of shows with Roland Kirk. His acceptance and Elvin Jones' acceptance of us really pushed us forward. Elvin showed up at one of our shows and it scared me to death. Elvin was blown away by what we were doing. That fed our confidence and made us think that we really did know what we were doing. We were able to experiment and do a whole lot more than your basic I/IV/V rock n’ roll band. I am most proud of adding an element of sophisticated jazz to the canon that was not there before us."

    CONTINUED -

    ReplyDelete
  11. Butch Trucks, cont:

    "There were bands that jammed, like the Grateful Dead. Their jams were very country and bluegrass based. Once in a while they would really lock in and find a groove. It was very few and far between but they would do it. The later years of the band it almost never happened. It is my opinion that there were only three guys in the band who could really play and that was Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann. The nights it was really good were when the three of them really clicked and the other guys just stayed out of the way. Toward the end, the other guys took on a stronger position as Jerry got further out of it. They would play for hours and they would just noodle and go nowhere.

    I saw them in Tampa before Jerry died. They had sixty-thousand people in the stadium. Some of these kids came hundreds of miles and paid hundreds of dollars to listen to these guys. They were standing up there acting like they didn’t give two flying ****s about anything. They would start a song and it would fall apart and they would just quit. If I was a kid in the audience then I would have gotten pissed. When Mickey Hart started that drum thing that he does then that did it; I had to leave. He started pounding on all that crap and I grabbed my wife and said, "We’re leaving." I was getting really angry. If I had been one of those kids that spent my hard earned money and all of my time to come see these guys – they obviously were not putting any effort into what they were doing and they were just going through the motions – I would have jumped up on stage and kicked their butts. These guys are going to walk out that night with a couple of million dollars. They won’t even try to put some effort into it? It just pissed me off.

    There are a lot of Dead followers and there are a lot of noodlers around that give the whole jam-band scene a bad name. I read an article recently where a guy said that we played "Blue Sky" for forty-five minutes. He said that it must have been a major bathroom break. I got to thinking if this guy measures the quality of music by how long it is then he must not know what is good. I can’t think of anything by Beethoven that would be under three minutes. It takes time to develop a song and go somewhere with it...

    We will do "Mountain Jam" and it will last for an hour but there are different movements and time changes throughout the song. We will actually stick a song in there sometimes. With this band, we never noodle; the song always goes somewhere. We will take a solo and start it out and build it and take it to a peak and get the hell out and go somewhere else. Even on our worst night it is interesting."

    ReplyDelete
  12. That came from a Classic Rock Revisited interview which doesn't seem to be online anymore.

    There was a little discussion of this here:
    http://archive.org/post/378909/butch-trucks-quote-dead-related
    And of course there are several Dead vs. Allmans threads on the Allmans Hittin' the Web forum, with more comparisons.

    So I'll just note that the Dead show Trucks saw was in April '95, and I probably would've hated it too...especially if the last one I'd seen was in '73.

    The next quote is from Gregg Allman, in his recent My Cross To Bear book:

    "By February 1970, we were back at the Fillmore East for three nights, playing with the Grateful Dead and Love, and we were the middle act. [Bill Graham] had fallen in love with us after he'd heard us that very first time... I knew that Bill had something to do with the Grateful Dead, and I thought that if he was managing the Dead, then we could show him what a real band was like.

    Before we played with the Grateful Dead for the first time, I had heard all the hype, but I didn't really have an opinion of them. If somebody had asked what I thought of them, I would have said, "I think that their music ain't got no groove to it at all," and it didn't. But they played the music that they played while the crowd did this thing that we eventually called "the Grateful Dead waltz," which consisted of dancing around, twirling, and jerking a whole lot. I didn't understand it at all, and I was the same age as them. I kept looking for something, but I just didn't get it.

    "What do you think of these guys?" I asked my brother. He didn't hesitate.

    "This is shit. You see them jugs that they're passing out?" he said, referring to the cases of Gatorade that they would electrify backstage and then pass out to the crowd. And then I knew what he was talking about. One tiny sip of that shit and it would be raining fire, man, so no wonder everybody was grooving on that music-anything would sound good like that.

    Not that the Grateful Dead had a trick passing out a bunch of crazy pills so that people would like their music-that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that that was part of their whole culture, part of their whole deal. I don't know their story, and I don't know any one of them well enough to ask them, "What's the deal with this?" but I really don't give a fuck that much. I just know that there's the Grateful Dead, and they have their place. They're pretty good people, I liked them all right. Garcia called me a narc at one point, so I never really gave two shits for him, but him and my brother got along because they were guitar players. Mostly I just ignored them."

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gregg may have felt like that back in the early '70s, when his band played with the Dead repeatedly; but I think he's really misrepresenting Duane here.
    And I wonder if Gregg's estrangement from Garcia helps expain why Garcia never played with the Allmans after '73.

    Anyway - this post is badly in need of revising/expanding, which I'll do when I can listen to the Allmans' 6/9/73 & 7/17/72 shows. That 7/17/72 show is really hard to find... (hint, hint)

    ReplyDelete
  14. See also this Allmans/Dead post, which goes into particular detail about 12/31/73:
    http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2012/12/december-31-1973-cow-palace-daly-city.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. You mention in the essay that you hadn't heard the Mountain Jam from 6/9/73,since it was written 4 years ago you might have heard it in the interim.If that is not the case here is a link.

    http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/6+09+73+RFK+Stadium+Washington+DC/7306440

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks; I did get a hold of those Allmans shows and have been meaning for months to update this post, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Until I revise it, apologies to everyone waiting in the meantime!

      Delete
  16. You're all idiots. Especially the guy who wrote this article, and for those of you who said, "i don't have an Allman Brothers bio" well get one, because there is. Gregg and Duane both thought the Dead were shit, and "had no groove". Jerry Garcia called Gregg a narc too. I've listened to both bands- i've always listened to the brothers, and recently i decided to see what everyone likes about the dead, honestly i have to say i felt like i was committing adultery. Oh, and by the way, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS WERE'NT INSPIRED BY CREAM OR HENDRIX. The Allman brothers were about playing good music and they weren't about that psychadelic bs. They played the blues, and they did a damned good job of it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ha, comments are funny sometimes.

    By the way, I am GOING to completely rewrite this post sometime this winter. It's been bugging me for years how brief, incomplete, and out-of-date it is, and a revision is long overdue.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I look forward to seeing the updated post. I am a big fan of both bands and believe that the Grateful Dead had a major impact on the Allman Brothers in many ways (band composition, Mountain Jam, the idea that a rock/blues band could play one song longer than 5 minutes, etc.). Hopefully, the RFK'73 shows will be released someday.

    You may find the 7-26-70 Mountain Jam to be of interest. There is a distinct Dark Star tease in it.

    Also, there are several examples of an "Other One Jam" during Mountain Jam (See: 7-26-70 and Ludlow Garage (April 1970). The Allmans also played this "Other One Jam" in Black Hearted Woman the last time I saw them play on Oct. 27, 2014.

    ReplyDelete