Duane Allman’s Daughter Galadrielle and the Skydog Box Set
Galadrielle Allman- photo by Amalie R Rothschild
INTERLUDE: DISC FIVE 1969 – 1970
Layla – the song; the album; the story behind it all – is the stuff of legends. By Eric Clapton’s own admission, the song and the album would’ve been different if it hadn’t been for Duane Allman joining the Layla sessions in the fall of 1970. Disc Five of Skydog offers some moments of Duane’s stints as a Domino and one of Delaney & Bonnie’s “friends” along with some more classic ABB tunes.
BR: The whole Layla story is a mark of how powerful Duane’s connection with the band and his brother was – that he could go into a session that made musical history; do the job; and simply leave on good terms to get back on the road with the Brothers.
GA: I know, it’s remarkable – and it speaks to his priorities. I think he took his bond with the band really seriously. Plus, I think he had absolute creative freedom in the Brothers that I don’t know he would have had in the Dominos … I don’t know that, but he probably couldn’t help but think of it as Eric’s band, you know? But I know he really loved and was proud of the music that he and Eric created together.
There were, what – two Dominos shows that he sat in on?
But no recordings that you considered for the Skydog box?
I think there are low-quality audience tapes. That was a big part of putting the box together: making decisions to try to keep things really high-quality rather than completest – in terms of live material where the sound quality gets funky.
My hat’s really off to Bill Levenson who co-produced this package. He really has high standards for what sounds good and wanted the discs to hang together so that you could put it all on and listen to it straight through. The music transitions well and has a feeling of being listenable without any jarring differences in sound quality.
I’ve talked with Gregg a lot about the kind of music they would want released and he feels strongly we use the best of the best. He can see the historical value of things, but I think he really gets embarrassed by what they sounded like at the age of 16. (laughter)
At the same time, I think it’s good for people to realize where it all came from – it wasn’t magic from the sky; it was work. They were working hard at what they loved to do and learning new things.
INTERLUDE: DISC SIX 1970 – 1971
Disc Six of Skydog offers some of the widest-ranging music of any single disc in the set, ranging from some intimate acoustic picking with Delaney & Bonnie to funky jazz jamming with Herbie Mann – and a freewheeling sit-in with the Dead … along with the Brothers at the Fillmore.
BR: The two Delaney & Bonnie tunes on Disc Six –“Gift Of Love” and “Sing My Way Home” – are so, so sweet.
GA: Aren’t they wonderful? I really think those are the heart of the album. We actually thought about naming the box set “Gift Of Love” at one point but it felt a little too sentimental … although it could have been called that and it would’ve been appropriate. But yeah – I love that music.
I believe those are from the sessions for Motel Shot – that’s one of our favorite Sunday-morning albums.
I think Duane truly loved playing with Delaney & Bonnie. It was a real escape for him to be able to go off and jump in mid-tour to sit in with them.
And then we have a run of some great, great Allman Brothers stuff from various Fillmore East shows – “Statesboro Blues” and “Elizabeth Reed” from At Fillmore East and then later on “One Way Out” from Eat A Peach – but in the middle of things is that wild version of “Sugar Magnolia” with the Dead. Now that was fun.
(laughs) That was a recording from the Dead’s incredible archives. And, yeah, it’s very cool. Again, he sounds totally at home in that setting.
The Herbie Mann stuff is yet another side of Duane’s playing. I love the moment on “Push Push” where Duane begins his solo and – after laying some groundwork – you can hear him flipping the toggle switch to change pickups and really let loose … it’s like a pitcher going into his windup.
That’s a great description. (laughs) I think there’s a photo of him on stage with Delaney & Bonnie along with Herbie Mann in the book; I hadn’t seen that picture before and it was really an exciting find. I believe it was taken on stage in Central Park at a Delaney & Bonnie show – Herbie was a guest and so was Duane. I think that’s where they met and the sessions happened after that.
It’s really cool to hear him playing in that jazz setting and realize just how flexible he was. He could really put his touch on anything.
INTERLUDE: DISC SEVEN 1971
Saxophonist King Curtis died on August 21, 1971; Disc Seven includes Duane’s tribute to his friend as he leads the Allman Brothers through a live medley of “You Don’t Love Me” into “Soul Serenade” a few days after Curtis’ death. Also included are live performances of “Blue Sky” and “Dreams” from a Brothers show on September 19th. Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971 – three weeks shy of his 25th birthday.
BR: Duane’s tribute to King Curtis on the final disc is an example of so many colors of sound – beautiful and raucous at the same time.
GA: He really loved King and they had a special connection. They admired each other and spent time outside the studio fishing … talking … they had a great friendship.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and tell you that the live version of “Blue Sky” on Disc Six is one of my favorite Brothers pieces ever. When Dickey and Duane were locked in, there just wasn’t – and hasn’t been since – anything quite like it.
That’s right – and Dickey wrote some of the most beautiful songs imaginable. I think Duane would tell you – and I know it to be true myself – Dickey had a different style and different strengths and came from different influences than Duane. But the two of them played off of each other so beautifully and raised each other’s game. I really think that that’s what happened throughout most of Duane’s career – he paired up with musicians who could really push him … and he pushed them. Leaders and followers, back and forth.
And I don’t care how many times it’s been played over the years while the crew coils up the chords and rolls the cabinets off the stage – “Little Martha” is the perfect way to end things.
I know Berry’s wife Linda told me that Duane would sort of riff on that tune long before “Little Martha” was written – it was sort of a little rambling tune he would play when he would just sit down with an acoustic guitar … which he was very seldom not doing when he was just hanging out. (laughs) I think it was long time in the making as it slowly evolved … it kept him company for a long time before it became “Little Martha”.
I always stand on stage and wait for it to end when I go to see them play because it’s so sweet. (laughs)
Do you have an early musical memory of your own – a piece that your father was involved in that got ahold of you early on?
You know, it’s strange: I don’t have specific memories like that: there is no time in my memory that pre-dates the Brothers. The music is so deeply in me that I was probably a teenager before I knew the names of the songs – but I already knew every note of the songs … they were part of the fabric of my life. There’s no one thing that really stands out for me … the music was always present.
My mom does tell a story about me being about 3 years old when she took the Layla record to a friend’s house to listen to it. When the song “Layla” came on, I stood up and started dancing – and danced right through the whole song in very joyful way that kind of blew everybody’s mind … (laughs) … it’s a long song for a tiny kid. (laughter) She loves to tell that story.
But the music was always a big part of my life – and I’m grateful for it, because it gives me a real sense of him, you know? It’s so personal; so powerful; I’ve really been raised with it and have learned from it. It sets a high bar for loving what you do and doing what you love – trying to be open to people and being creative. There’s a lot to learn … a lot to pick from his music … and I do.
That’s a lesson for us all: if you apply your father’s approach to music to anything you want to do in life, things are going to happen.
That’s right – that’s really a fitting tribute to him: for people to take what they love to do seriously. Get behind yourself and explore it; take the time to learn how to do something that you love and put your heart into it. You can feel that: when you dedicate yourself to something, and you meet like-minded people; be open to other people and exchange ideas … it’s a beautiful model.
That’s why the package ends the way it does with the quote from his diary – it’s the last page of the booklet – and it really speaks to the kind of generous, creative person he was. It’s a beautiful note to end on.
Oh, Galadrielle – you’re so right. And you know what? With your blessing, perhaps that’s the best way to close this piece.
Oh, you absolutely should. Please do.
FINALE: FROM DUANE ALLMAN’S DIARY 1/1/69
This year I will be more thoughtful of my fellow man, exert more effort in each of my endeavors professionally as well as personally, take love wherever I find it, and offer it to everyone who will take it. In this coming year I will seek knowledge from those wiser than me and try to teach those who wish to learn from me. I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. – Duane Allman
Brian Robbins explores what he loves to do these days over at www.brian-robbins.com