Despite numerous losses and setbacks, the Allman Brothers Band has stood the test of time since its inception in 1969. The pioneers of Southern rock included original members brothers Duane Allman (slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, organ, songwriting), along with Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson (drums).
Their debut record, The Allman Brothers Band, met with immediate critical acclaim upon its 1969 release and a burgeoning cult following got underway. It was followed by 1970's Idlewild South which saw increased sales and even more critical positivity.
In the next year came At Fillmore East which proved to be an artistic and commercial breakthrough for the band while showcasing the Allman Brothers Band's unique blend of jazz, classical, blues, and rock. Some of the extended performances set a standard for jam bands that still stands today.
Later in 1971, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident, but the band trudged on. A year later, Oakley also perished in a motorcycle accident that occurred three blocks from the site of Duane's collision. Lamar Williams replaced Oakley while Chuck Leavell joined on piano so as not to be seen as trying to replace Duane.
Eat a Peach was the group's 1972 offering with Brothers and Sisters coming the next year. A track on the latter, "Ramblin' Man," climbed the Billboard singles chart up to number two. Major concert and television appearances continued to fuel the expansion of the Allman Brothers reach. Their success also paved the way for other Southern rock groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.
As drug abuse and personality conflicts were tearing at the fabric of the band, they issued Win, Lose or Draw in 1975. They managed to keep it together for one more year until Gregg Allman was arrested on drug charges and agreed to testify against the band's tour manager. That was the breaking point. Betts set out on his solo career, with Leavell, Johanson, and Williams joining forces for Sea Level.
Capricorn Records released a compilation and another live album, neither of which sold well. Then, in 1978, the group got back together for Enlightened Rogues with Dan Toler and David Goldflies taking the spots vacated by Leavell and Williams. A label change also followed, landing the group on Arista Records. After a couple more weak releases, the guys disbanded once again in 1982.
After a few years dabbling in spin-off projects, the Allman Brothers Band came together for some benefit concerts in 1986. Subsequent to that, the camps were divided into the Gregg Allman Band and the Dickey Betts Band, both of which signed to Epic Records in 1987 and released collaborative efforts.
Riding the wake of Gregg Allman's minor radio successes, the Allman Brothers Band took another stab at it in 1989, releasing Seven Turns to honor their 20th anniversary. The set met with favorable reviews. Shades Of Two Worlds (1991) and Where It All Begins (1994) followed suit. In 1995, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while 1996 brough a Grammy award win.
Personnel changes continued, including an ugly ousting of Betts in 2000 which led to a lawsuit. Warren Haynes, who became a member via the Dickey Betts Band, had been splitting his time between Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers. In 2001, he signed on full-time to the Allmans, even producing 2003's Hittin' the Note.
More Grammy wins came in 2003 and 2004, while Rolling Stone named Duane Allman, Haynes, Betts, and Derek Trucks (who joined the Allman fray in 1999) to their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list with Duane at number two.
With Haynes and Trucks attracting a younger audience, the Allman Brothers Band began reaching a new generation with appearances at festivals like Bonnaroo. After receiving the Legend of Live Award at the 2008 Billboard Touring Awards, the group celebrated 40 years together in 2009.