Thread: essay on Duane I found on the web

TanDan - 4/25/2008 at 12:22 AM tnode_id=1149731&op=ilikeit

by 'Dannye' Sept 01, 2001....thought it was interesting.

Have you ever been in one of those downtowns with the old hardware store right in the middle of it all? That's the way it was where I grew up. It was Sandlin's Hardware, and old man Sandlin had done fairly well for himself. There was always a kid associated with these businesses; a kid you knew. There was the strawberry blonde whose dad owned the pawn shop. There was the girl you dated whose dad owned the little grocery store. And there was the kid who wanted to be a drummer whose dad owned Sandlin's Hardware.

I've never understood drummers, actually. I know it's hard to do and I know the best of them feel the rhythm in some primal way that I never will. But let's face facts; white suburban kids who want to be a drummer usually desire this for one reason: They want to be in a band so badly they can taste it, but they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, even if the only instrument in the world was a Jew's harp. They usually come from families with money, 'cause drums cost more than a cheap guitar. And that's the way it was with the Sandlin kid.

This was back in the day when kids were paying good money to see The Kingsmen play Louie Louie or The Swingin' Medallions playing "Double Shot of My Baby's Love." The instrument du jour was the cheap ass organ, used in such hits as "(I'm Gonna Cry) 96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians. The sound was, like the organ, cheap. But it was fun. The guitar players were usually relegated to the surf licks, and most of them had The Ventures as heroes. However, as we know now due to hindsight, the great guitarists who grew up in that period were honing their chops around the blues.

There's something nasty about the blues. Much nastier than what you'd hear at a frat party. Even if Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts were playing. The blues wasn't about funny **** ing or funny breakups: The blues was about sex and death. Sex and Death are really all that matters to real artists in the end, you know. You ever heard Josh White sing St. James Infirmary?

So the Sandlin boy got pretty good on the drums and wound up with a couple of blonde boys from Daytona Beach, FL, in a band called the Hourglass. I went out to his house a few times when they were rehearsing. The lead singer had a gruff voice and played a little bit on the Hammond B3 organ. His brother was the guitarist. They both had way too long blonde hair and these muttonchop beards. It became clear that the singer was the extrovert, star-struck, wannabe and that his brother was the introverted artist. I was hearing things the introvert was doing with that tobacco sunburst Les Paul that I'd never heard before. But it was still gelling for him. It wasn't really real just yet. They were trying to play pop songs and the seams kept bursting into something else and no one was real sure what it was. Least of all, the drummer.

So, when the two blonde boys got fed up with playing small town armories as the Hourglass, and their first two Hourglass records didn't go anywhere, the introvert went back to Florida and the star-struck one went to Hollywood. The drummer went back to working in his dad's hardware store.

Rick Hall, who owned Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, heard about the introvert and hired him to do some backup work for Wilson Pickett. That turned into backup work for Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, Otis Rush, Boz Scaggs, and some other notable folks. But the introvert missed his homies and was always going back to Florida to catch up on old times and new drugs.

The story goes that one night in early 1969, he set up the equipment and jammed with Dickey Betts (guitar), Barry Oakley (bass), Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson (both on drums). The little jam lasted for almost three hours. When it was over, everyone was speechless. The introvert is said to have said, "It really frightened the **** out of everybody. Right then I knew -- I said, 'Man, here it is!' I told Rick I didn't want to do session work full-time any more. I had found what I really wanted to do."

So he called the extrovert and got him to come back from California and they wound up with Phil Walden who talked them into moving to Macon, GA. (One of the drummers, Butch Trucks, later said that they grossed $40 million and that Phil Walden f**ked them out of ever last dime of it.) After a couple of so-so albums, Bill Graham got wind of them and in December of 1970 they played a gig at the Fillmore East. This gig got so out of hand that they kept Canned Heat waiting to come on until 3:30 AM. The next time they played the Fillmore, the essential Allman Brothers album was recorded live.

And there it is if you want to hear it. The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East. If you want to hear guitar work like it's never been done before or since, I'd suggest you listen to the introvert play on these tunes. You probably know him better from his work on Layla with Eric Clapton. You can hear him primarily on "Key to the Highway" and "Have You Ever Loved a Woman." But it's those bird sounds, like at the end of Layla, that he'd get out of his Coricidin© bottle on that Les Paul that no one ever forgets. Eric Clapton told a couple of folks I know that the introvert was the best guitar player he'd ever heard. Clapton never really took up slide guitar until he heard this fellow play it.

The doors began to open up big-time for the introvert around this time. Laura Nyro . . . Herbie Hancock . . . everybody with a good ear wanted him to do work on their stuff. But the good die young, it seems. Late one afternoon he was leaving Barry Oakley's house and ran into a truck on his motorcycle. I can tell you from personal experience that he wasn't feeling any pain before or after this incident. In fact, the amount of narcotics they gave him at the hospital in the couple of hours before he died were probably fewer than the ones he'd already done on his own.

He had been born on November 20, 1946, in Nashville, TN. He died in Macon on October 29, 1971. He would have turned 25 in 22 days.

I heard Duane Allman play several times, and I can tell you that there is not another guitarist of our age who could touch him. He wasn't a flashy guy. He'd stand there in one spot and look down at his hands as they produced the sounds only angels get to hear, usually.

I saw him a couple of times, just before he died, and they had added a new wrinkle to their shows. Around the middle, Duane would walk behind the huge stack of amps and come back a couple of minutes later. He'd have a different sort of glazed yet focused look in his eyes. He'd pick his Les Paul guitar back up and join back in the song in progress. And then, one by one, the other members of the band would walk off stage. Eventually, there he would be, alone, still playing the song. By himself. He would leave this world and go somewhere else: To a land where one electric guitar is all the band you need to hear music the way God himself hears it. This would last anywhere from ten to thirty minutes, depending on either his mood or the quality of the stuff with which he was corresponding on that little respite behind the amps. But I can tell you this:

Those few minutes were the most important musical moments of my life.

And I think he felt pretty much the same way about them.

[Edited on 4/25/2008 by TanDan]

dougrhon - 4/25/2008 at 01:58 AM

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say Gregg was the introvert and Duane the extrovert?

DanaVClouser - 4/25/2008 at 02:18 AM

Certainly agree with that comment.....from everything I've heard and read, Duane was the extroverted 'leader'....Bro-Gregg the 'follower'....and as they say on Seinfeld..."Not that there was anything wrong with that!"

Also, if my history knowledge is served up right.....Duane certainly didn't own the "Tobacco Burst" Les Paul until well into the ABB's initial two year run....not during the days of "Hourglass".

[Edited on 4/25/2008 by DanaVClouser]

TanDan - 4/25/2008 at 02:27 AM

I'm sure there are more than a few inaccuracies in the story. What I thought interested was his mentioning the Sandlin name. Perhaps he was a friend of Johnny's. Perhaps Big Ann would know.

RedRider - 4/26/2008 at 11:30 PM

Oh I imagine he's got a clue or three...

greggswoman - 4/26/2008 at 11:32 PM

I remember seeing this before. I tried to get in touch with the writer to no avail.

bigann - 4/26/2008 at 11:38 PM

The essay is crap from start to finish and full of inaccuracies. If anyone is interested in the truth, here are a few corrections:

Johnny didn't start out as a drummer....he started out playing guitar and only got drums a few years later so that blows the first two paragraphs out of the water. He also plays bass.

In the fifth paragraph the guy calls the extrovert a 'star-struck wannabe' which should pretty much offend about anyone here reading it since, as it turns out, neither of them were 'wannabes stars' but were for real stars. Johnny doesn't know if this guy was out at the house when the Hour Glass was rehearsing or not because there were always people hanging around while they were working. If the guy was really there, he wasn't more than an outsider of little consequence. And believe me....they all knew what they were doing and what it was....especially the drummer.

Sixth paragraph....Johnny never worked in the hardware store other than once in a while when he was a kid to earn money for records or later on during Christmas to help out. After the HourGlass Johnny ended up as session drummer in Miami.

Ninth paragraph isn't right either. Duane was already connected with Phil, not after the band was formed. The rest of the article factually goes even further down hill from there.

Oh, and it's obvious the writer was trying to do so from some drug induced memory.....Gregg the extrovert? Enough said.

cleaneduphippy - 4/27/2008 at 09:12 AM

Thanks Ann,

Also, from what I understand, Gregg didn't play a B-3 till he came back from California to join the Allman Brothers. Somethiing about rolling five or six joints, and locking him in a room, and telling him he couldn't come out till he learned how to play it.

And wasn't Duane main guitar during the Hourglass days a Fender Tele with a Strat neck?

[Edited on 4/27/2008 by cleaneduphippy]

bigann - 4/27/2008 at 01:36 PM

Here are a couple of exceprts about the Hour Glass equipment from Johnny's book we're working on that pertain to what was being asked.

"Duane was playing a Telly with a Strat neck and he and Gregg both had super Beetle Vox amps. I had an early '60s Fender Bassman amp Duane really liked so we took it out to California with us. As loud as we were playing at that time, the speakers in the amp were going and not quite loud enough so we put JBLs in it.......... Paul played an A-100 with a leslie cut down to be portable. It wasn't a B-2 but it was close to it and we had a Wurlitzer piano that Gregg played. When Pete joined the band he played a Jazz bass with a custom amp.........We had a Fender 12-string Gregg would use sometimes and maybe an acoustic/electric guitar. Gregg didn't play guitar very often but he wrote a lot of songs on one. "

"I've still got the Wurlitzer from the band and it has a story that came with it. Several of us went to a music store in L.A. and picked out this particular Wurlitzer for Paul to play since he was playing most of the Wurlitzer parts then. Actually, Gregg and Paul set up close together so they could swap between the Wurlitzer and organ when they needed to but Paul ended up primarily on the Wurlitzer. The salesman showed us how to hook it up to an amp which was essential because you couldn't play it off the little speaker that came in it. Once we figured it out, it sounded great. The Wurlitzer is still my favorite keyboard. Duane had borrowed a '59 gold top Les Paul from Tommy Compton, who still lives in Decatur, and he didn't want to give it back to Tommy. And Tommy definitely wanted it back. Eventually it worked around to Gregg trading the Wurlitzer for the guitar. The guitar was worth more than the piano but Tommy had a use for it and was trying to keep Duane from getting busted because Tommy's dad was ready to go after Duane to get the guitar back. So, the piano was sent back to Decatur and Duane kept the guitar. Of course that guitar would be worth a fortune now, certainly more than the piano is worth. Tommy eventually sold the piano to a guy who sold it to Eddie Hinton. After Eddie died in '95, his mother sent the piano back to the guy who'd sold it to Eddie and I bought it back from him a year or so later to use in my studio

dadof2 - 4/27/2008 at 01:39 PM

since this essay is crap & filled with inaccuracies,did johnny try to talk to the writer at the time to correct the matter & make it factual?

PeachNutt - 4/27/2008 at 02:47 PM

I can't wait for this book.....

dadof2 - 4/27/2008 at 02:56 PM

me too!!

bigann - 4/27/2008 at 03:11 PM

since this essay is crap & filled with inaccuracies,did johnny try to talk to the writer at the time to correct the matter & make it factual?

No. The article was written in 2001 and we only read it about a year or so ago and could never figure out who wrote it or we would have contacted him.

dadof2 - 4/27/2008 at 03:17 PM

interesting....thanks for your response

This thread come from : Hittin' The Web with the Allman Brothers Band

Url of this website: