Nov 20, 2010
Duane "Skydog" Allman, for my money the greatest guitar player ever to have picked up a six string, would have been 64 years old today. His death in 1971 as a result of a motorcycle accident cut short what surely would have been a long and prestigous career.
Instead, we are left with great memories, a few Allman Brothers Band recordings, and his session work, some of which was put together in the Duane Allman Anthology collections. Of the rock guitar gods who came of age between 1967 and 1971, he was the closest to a jazz musician. As noted in interviews he gave before his death, Allman;s greatest influences once he began to play were Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Read Robert Palmer's liner notes for the re-issue of Kind of Blue, and you'll learn about the effect it had on Duane. In part, he writes:
Duane was a rare melodist and a dedicated student of music who was never evasive about the sources of his inspiration. "You know," he told me one night after soaring for hours on wings of lyrical song, "that kind of playing comes from Miles and Coltrane, and particularly Kind Of Blue. I've listened to that album so many times that for the past couple of years, I haven't hardly listened to anything else.
Duane could play with the jazz men, too. A few months before his death, he joined Herbie Mann, in Atlantic Records' New York City studios and recorded the great Push Push. Click here to listen to the title track, and enjoy the way Duane integrates himself into a crack jazz band composed of Gene Bianco on harmonica, Richard Tee on keyboards, Cornell Dupree on guitar, Chuck Rainey on bass, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums and Ralph McDonald on percussion.
Skydog, we hardly knew ye.