The History Of The Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Photo: By Robert Catalano [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past forty five years, Allman Brothers Band fans have enjoyed some of the greatest rock music ever recorded in classic rock history. Fueling the music of the Allman Brothers Band has been two very significant factors. Gregg Allman’s voice and keyboard work has defined a great part of the sound of the band throughout their entire career. Secondly, the guitar work from the various guitarists that have founded and been employed by the band has also distinguished the Allman Brothers Band as one of the most important contributors to rock and roll music culture.

The contributions have taken form in the stretching of studio materiel into long improvisational live jam sessions filled with substance and excitement. We also don’t want to forget the percussive element of the band which has also been equally important. However, this article will take a short look at the guitar players of the Allman Brothers Band. They all have been listed here in chronological order.

Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Duane Allman

Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Photo: Ed Berman / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Duane Allman was the founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Duane has been the guitarist that all Allman Brothers Band guitarists have been compared to. Duane Allman has also been considered one of the greatest slide guitarist of all time. Musicians and fans look at the various factors in determining the quality of a rock guitarist. Certain guitarists have a flair for intense rhythmic playing. Others guitarist are known for their improvisational work. The sound of the guitar itself is also equally important. Duane Allman had a unique sound. Duane’s rhythmic playing was deep and intense. However, Duane’s greatest attribute was his improvisational skills performed on slide guitar.

Duane Allman was such a master guitarist that many rock critics have labeled him as the greatest guitarist of all time next to Jimi Hendrix. Duane Allman’s career was tragically cut short as he was killed in a motorcycle accident just after performing at the Fillmore East concerts in 1971. Duane Allman was only twenty four years old when he died. The skills that he presented to the world at such a young age should be interpreted of that as a genius. Most musicians spent their entire lives trying to gain the improvisational knowledge and ability that Duane Allman displayed at the young age of twenty four. All guitarists that have performed in the Allman Brothers Band have been compared to Duane Allman. It’s an unfortunate comparison because Duane’s sound and contributions to the band should always be viewed as incomparable.

Duane Allman’s recorded work with the Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

(released November 4, 1969)

Idelwild South

(released September 23, 1970)

Live at the Fillmore East

(released July 1971)

Eat a Peach

(released February 12, 1972)

Duane was on the live recordings but had already passed away for some of the studio recordings such as Melissa,”Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”, and “Les Brers in A Minor”

Duane Allman has also appeared on various greatest hits packages, the Dreams box set and alternate CD issues with bonus tracks of unreleased live and studio recordings. However his original output with Allman Brothers Band ended with the Eat a Peach album in 1972.

Dickey Betts

Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Photo: SImone berna / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Dickey Betts was also a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Dickey Betts’ interplay on stage and in the studio with Duane Allman helped formulate one of the greatest pair of guitar duos in the history of rock and roll. In the original band, Duane played all the slide guitar parts while Dickey performed his own style of lead guitar playing. The two of them helped create a sound that was very distinguishable from other acts. The dual guitar line playing would later be featured once again in similar fashion by the tandem of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. Dickey Betts’ role in the Allman Brothers Band as lead guitarists was also augmented by his songwriting contribution to the band. Dickey Betts has penned some of the most iconic Allman Brothers Band songs.

Dickey Betts’ recorded work with the Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band – (released November 4, 1969)

Idelwild South – (released September 23, 1970)

Live at the Fillmore East – (released July 1971)

Eat a Peach – (released February 12, 1972)

Brothers and Sisters – (released 1973)

Win, Lose or Draw – (released 1975)

Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil,Dollar Gas -(released 1976)

Enlightened Rogues – (released 1979)

Reach for the Sky – (released 1980)

Brothers of the Road – (released 1981)

Seven Turns –  (Released: July 3, 1990)

Shades of Two Worlds –  (Released: July 2, 1991)

An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set – (Released: June 9, 1992)

Where It All Begins  – (Released May 3, 1994)

Les Dudek

Les Dudek was never formally a member of the Allman Brothers Band. However, he was hired to play guitar on the Allman Brothers Band album Brothers and Sisters. However, Dudek’s work on the classic songs “Jessica,” and  “Rambling Man,” have become part of the The Allman Brothers Legacy. Les Dudek also spent time with the Steve Miller Band in which he was featured on the famous albums Fly Like and Eagle and Book of Dreams. Dudek worked with many other famous artists including Boz Scaggs, Stevie Nicks, Dave Mason, Cher, Bobby Whitlock and Maria Muldaur. Besides working as a gun for hire, Les Dudek has released seven solo albums throughout his long rock and roll career.

Dan Toler

Dan Toler often known as “Dangerous Dan Toler,” was a member of the Allman Brothers Band during their late 1970’s period. Dan Toler played guitar on the albums, Enlightened Rogues, Reach for the Sky, and Brothers of the Road  which were all released between the years 1979 and 1982. Dan Toler was also a member of Dickey Betts’ band Great Southern. Dan Toler also played guitar in Gregg Allman’s’ band in the late 1980’s. In 2009, Dan formed the Toler/Townsend Band. In 2011, Dan Toler also formed the Toler-Tucci Band. Sadly Dan Toler passed away in 2013 due to his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Warren Haynes

Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Photo: pitpony.photography / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

It can easily be argued that the successful rebirth of the Allman Brothers Band in 1989 can be greatly attributed to the addition of Warren Haynes on guitar. The arrival of Warren Haynes reignited the old Allman Brothers Band spirit that surrounded the band during the Duane Allman years. Warren Haynes was brought into the Allman Brothers Band by Dickey Betts. Warren Haynes was first introduced to Allman Brother Fans when he played a prominent role on Dickey Betts’ brilliant solo album Pattern Disruptive. The album drew critical acclaim and was well received by fans. It was Warren Haynes guitar playing on the record, and the fact that he co-wrote four of the album’s cuts that elevated the record to sound close to an Allman Brothers recording. It was only a year later when Warren Haynes joined the Allman Brothers Band.

Warren Haynes brought not only his virtuoso blues infested guitar techniques to the band, he also established himself as one of the band’s songwriters and vocalists. His self-penned song “Soul Shine,” has become an Allman Brothers Band concert staple.

Warren Haynes recorded work with the Allman Brothers Band

Seven Turns –  (Released: July 3, 1990)

Shades of Two Worlds –  (Released: July 2, 1991)

An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set – (Released: June 9, 1992)

Where It All Begins  – (Released May 3, 1994)

Peakin’ at the Beacon –  (Released: November 4, 2000)

Hittin’ the Note –  (Released: March 18, 2003)

One Way Out (Live) –  (Released: March 23, 2004)

Jack Pearson

Jack Pearson was a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1997 to 1999. During that time period the Allman Brothers Band spent no time in the recording studio and released no live albums. So, unfortunately for Jack, he is not given credit on any Allman Brothers Band albums. Jack Pearson left the band in 1999 because of the medical condition tinnitus which is a constant ringing in the ears. When Jack Pearson left the band, he was replaced by Derek Trucks. However, on subsequent tours, Jack Pearson has filled in for either Derek Trucks or Warren Haynes on multiple occasions.

Jimmy Herring

Jimmy Herring performed briefly with the Allman Brothers Band. He had filled in for Dickey Betts  early in the 1990’s after Betts had been arrested. But that stint lasted for only one night. However, Jimmy Herring joined the Allman Brothers Band for their Summer 2000 tour. Jimmy Herring performed lead guitarists duties with the Allman Brothers Band from May to October of 2000.

Jimmy Herring has not appeared on any official Allman Brothers Band releases. Nonetheless, Jimmy Herring has a superlative resume of album releases with some of rock music’s greatest artists. Herring was a founding member of the groups Jazz is Dead and Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Herring has also performed lead guitar responsibilities in Widespread Panic. Herring has also toured and recorded with Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead.

 Derek Trucks

Allman Brothers Band Guitar Players

Photo: Xophersmith / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

No other guitar player in the Allman Brothers Band has been compared more to Duane Allman than Derek Trucks. Without a doubt, Derek Trucks is simply one of the most exciting guitar players to enter the rock and roll scene over the last twenty years. Derek Trucks reignited the Allman Brothers Band when he joined in 2000 in similar fashion as Warren Haynes had ten years earlier. The combination of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks trading lead guitar solos for the decade and a half they spent together in the Allman Brothers Band made for some of the greatest concerts and records of the band’s career.

What separated Derek Trucks guitar playing from all previous slide guitar players was the influence of jazz artists such as John Coltrane and Bill Evans. Derek Trucks guitar solos explored not only the standard major and minor blues scales, but also the jazz modal scales. His stage presence defined an artist in deep thought while he performed. There was no flash, or rock and roll moves behind the solos, it was all about a deep understanding of the music and the willingness and ability to take the solo sections beyond the traditional blues rock format.

His contributions to the Allman Brothers Band echoed the impact that Duane Allman originally had during the band’s early days. Between Derek Trucks brilliant guitar solos and Warren Haynes complimentary virtuoso guitar work, vocals, and songwriting , there is no doubt that those two men were the instrumental force in fueling the Allman Brothers Band success in the 2000’s.

Derek Trucks recorded work with the Allman Brothers Band

Peakin’ at the Beacon –  (Released: November 4, 2000)

Hittin’ the Note –  (Released: March 18, 2003)

One Way Out (Live) –  (Released: March 23, 2004)

Updated August 20, 2020


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