Duane Allman, real name Howard Duane Allman was born in Nashville Tennessee in 1946. He started playing guitar as a teenager after his younger brother Gregg started learning the instrument. The brothers became inspired by music when they attended a BB King concert in 1959 and Duane Allman spent most of his teenage years playing the guitar and improvising solos.
The Allman brothers first performed in public in 1961. Their first band, the Escorts opened for the Beach Boys in 1965, followed by a new band called The Allman Joys.
The next band called Hour Glass followed and they relocated to Los Angeles in 1967 in order to play seriously. Hour Glass had some success and recorded two albums before folding due to musical differences with the record company.
It was around this time that Duane Allman developed his slide guitar technique after an illness left him with a handy finger sized pill bottle to play with. His slide guitar and distinctive sound earned him the nickname “Skydog”.
In 1968 aged 22, Duane Allman did session work appearing on records by a number of artists such as Wilson Picket, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, and Delaney and Bonnie. Eric Clapton took an interest in Duane Allman’s work after hearing his guitar lead on Wilson Picket’s single “Hey Jude” and wanted to meet him.
Duane Allman founded the Allman Brothers band in 1969 and they released their début album The Allman Brothers Band. The band toured extensively releasing a second album the following year titled “Idelwild South”.
Eric Clapton went to see the Allman Brothers band play in Miami in 1970, and met Duane Allman after the gig. Clapton asked Duane Allman to play on Layla on the Derek and the Dominoes album. In the end, Duane played on most tracks of the album. Although Clapton invited Duane Allman to join Derek and the Dominoes, he declined the offer and carried on with The ABB, recording the album “At Fillmore East in 1971” and playing on other artists recordings at the same time as a session player.
“At Fillmore East” was to be Duane Allman’s last album. Tragically, he was killed in a motorcycle crash in October 1971.