Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Chill Pill From The ABB While The Fools Fiddle


I am encouraged by the last couple of days. It seems that the people who came here once just to spew some venom my way have receded to whatever den they came out of. Obviously the last piece was my opinion and "need I say it" not everyone shares it. What was great was the level of civility that was maintained while we discussed our differences. If only, blah, blah , blah. You can fill in those blahs for yourselves.

For those of you that didn't see the video and those that came back to see it again, I am very, very sorry but it seems that we don't own that video. The dude that does does not want it up and insisted that I take it down. There are plans for a long form film about the ABB that should include this one and several others from Byron. For those that saw it I hope you enjoyed it and here is the story without further editing. 

Today I have the urge to ramble a bit on  where my life went after the place I left it at the end of my tribute to Duane. We are just beginning rehearsals, with "Trouble No More" being the first song we learned and Duane calling Gregg to get to Jacksonville ASAP. We pick things up with the next thing we started working on: Spencer Davis' "Don't Want Ya No More". I have no recollection (sorry Rupert) of who or how that "Don't Want Ya No More"  line came up but someone, probably Duane, really liked it so we used it as a starting point for a structured jam that developed into what became one of our most used opening numbers. Our first title for it was "The Mother Fucker". If you're not familiar with it it takes the line from Davis' tune, repeats it and then we go into a transitional lick that ends by coming out of the shuffle we were playing and switching into a straight 4/4 rhythm for Gregg to play two two organ solos over. Then we just slip back into the shuffle for two guitar solos that are followed followed by a dual guitar line (first time ever for this new tool that in many ways will come to define a major part of our sound) that leads into a second guitar solo, two passes, that ends with a repeat of the earlier dual line that retards into everyone holding the final chord until Duane plays a screaming intro into a slow 12 bar blues groove. This is pretty much what we had learned when Gregg showed up.

I remember that when we played these for Gregg, he took Duane aside and whispered to him "I ain't good enough to pay in this band" Duane just looked at him and said sit your ass down (behind a brand new Hammond B-3) and within a short time Gregg gave us "Not My Cross to Bear" and those two have been paired up for eternity ever since. After Gregg realized that, not only was he good enough to "play" in this band, but that he had a few other things to contribute, he began to pull out tune after tune, Whippin' Post, Dreams, Black Hearted Woman, etc, etc and the ABB was off to the races.

We didn't stay in Jacksonville for long and within days we all piled into a white (aren't they all?) Ford Econoline and headed up to Macon, where Phil Walden was headquartered (MUCH more on him in my piece on the music business). We landed at a place owned (rented) by Twiggs Lyndon (Twiggs could be considered the very first member of the ABB) our road manager. It was a two room apartment totally devoid of any furnishings except a Coke machine that Twiggs kept filled with beer.  The idea was that if you paid a quarter for a beer then we would always have funds to refill the machine. Since we seldom had a quarter, Twiggs was always opening the machine and we seldom had funds for more beer. Somehow, not sure exactly how, it did seem to always have beer in it though. Maybe it just felt good about being used for third base when we would come in late at night after hours of rehearsal in an empty warehouse behind a barber shop on Broadway and start up a game of cork-ball. I'll explain that game in its entirety later. We played a lot of cork-ball in those days.

We threw a few mattresses around the rooms and "The Hippy Crash Pad" was formally born. I always thought it very strange that a groupp of guys with hair down their shoulders and even one black man in it was able to hang in that place (being Macon, GA, circa 1969), eat psilocybin and play ball, sliding into third base (our beloved coke machine) at 4-5am and not have the police show up and haul us all off to jail or worse. For some reason rather than call the cops, everyone in that building just moved out. One day we came back from practice and one family was moving and we lined the hallway and gave them a round of applause. They were not amused. We were ecstatic. Eventually some lovely young girls moved into the apt. across the hall and we wound up renting the apt next to "The Crash Pad". We really had a ton of fun in that place. Wesleyan College for Women supplied us with a stream of beautiful playmates, the music was well on its way to a new religion. I had begun reading "The Lord of the Rings" the day of our first rehearsal and between group gropes, cork-ball games, etc was living in the magical world of "Middle Earth". Life was as good as it gets.

By the way, it became an annual right of spring for me for the next few years that I reread Tolkien. I have probably read those books at least 20 times and seen the films even more. Maybe a piece on the "Ring" will be in order one day, we'll see. I have had many theories as to what the "ring" symbolizes and I will probably have many more. Would be nice to hear what yall think.

Gonna jump ahead a year. Don't worry, I promise to fill in 1969-1970, but I came across the above video so I'm gonna yap a bit about the "2nd Atlanta Pop Festival" held in Byron, GA., July 3, 4, 5, 1970. We were just getting started when the first Atlanta Pop Festival was held in '69, so no one really wanted us to be there except us. That was just about the time we began playing the free Sunday concerts in Piedmont Park, later on that too.

Byron was incredible. Estimates range from 150,000 to 500,000 but most rational people believe that 200,000 is probably pretty close. Whatever it was it was a shit load of people and there is little doubt that Byron was one of the launching pads for The Allman Brothers. I mean we played and played and played. When we couldn't get on the main stage, we would go across the road and jam with everyone else on the free stage they thought would satisfy everyone and keep them from tearing down the fences and just coming in. WRONG!!! First day, as soon as critical mass was reached, the gates came down everyone poured in. The bands weren't paid and the promoters lost their respective asses. We could have used the bucks but, fuck it, we  were there to spread this new religion we had discovered and did we ever preach. You can see just a tiny bit from the first set in the above video. This was early in the day while we were all still relatively sober. Don't remember Duane jumping around that much. There is little doubt that he was having a ball. We played a very long set that afternoon and man was it hot. We played another set on that stage either later that day or, more likely, the next. It had been sweltering all day, with naked kids in various stages of consciousness swimming in a river near the festival site. Believe me that part of Georgia had never seen anything quite like it. It was amazing that things went as smoothly as they did. But they did. Anyway, when we got up to play that evening show the sun was still up and everyone was still sweltering but as we played a small storm moved in. About halfway through our set it started pouring. You talk about a crowd getting its second wind,  well these kids with that cool refreshing rain pouring down on them just went berserk. They all stood up started dancing throwing mud and in general really kicking into a mass of kids making a joyful noise while listening to us do the same. Well....the only cover on the stage was a huge tarp and once it filled with water it came crashing down on us with a vengeance. Of course we had to shut off all of the electric stuff, but we had two drummers. Jaimoe and I never missed a lick. We just kept playing with huge splashes of water flying up every time I hit my floor tom, This somehow raised the energy level of the crowd even higher. All the electric players started looking for and finding things to beat on and we just played and played until, after a while, it stopped raining. We turned all the electrics back on and blew that place apart. One of our truly high points early on that was followed by many more.

So went Byron. We left there, continued to tour almost without stopping for many more months. Byron, however, introduced us to the world in a big way as well as putting us in front of thousands for the first time. It was quite intoxicating. The Allman Brothers Band were taking off in every way. That three days raised the bar drastically.

Later Yall.

40 comments:

  1. What a nice slice, thanks for sharing it...


    Ben

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  2. Dear Butch;

    After watching the video and seeing the pure joy and love which the original members of ABB exuded while performing together, does it ever tug at your heart to contact Dickey and if nothing else, just bury the damn hatchet and put the arrows away??....Even if you guys never make music together again, you are all inextricably linked by the "bond" and I'd bet that somewhere deep down past all the bullshit and accusations, there is really still an admiration, respect and love for what you guys shared together....Please consider it before it's too late.
    I really enjoy reading your blog....I don't agree with everything you opine about but I like reading it nonetheless.
    Peace unto you brother,
    Lexton

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  3. Oh wow Butch, I sure hope we get to see all of this footage one day. Sure do love hearing and seeing the original six play, the greatest there ever was. Thanks for sharing man.

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  4. Hi Butch,
    Just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your blogs! It's nice to know that there is someone else out there that sees the world in the same way....politics, religion, etc.!!! Loving it! I am from the old Macon crowd....friends of Skoots, Twiggs, Trash, Scout etc. Rock on my brother!!!
    Sincerely,
    Terry Jones Rogers

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  5. The hair on my neck is standing up after watching that that short piece of film...Would like to see the rest of the film footage. Duane sure gets into it!! :-) Thanks for sharing it!

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  6. Butch,

    Thank you so much for giving us a taste of the Atlanta Pop footage along with your memories of Duane and the early days!

    Here's hoping that one day soon we'll be able to see more where this came from.

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  7. Great to see this! It was a good time to be in Macon, GA! You may remember that they left the stage up for some time thereafter. Seems like I played out there several times that summer and fall in little shows and jams someone organized. I recall that the place felt consecrated. Thank you, again, for this post!

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  8. I love your blogs! I missed seeing Duane by a month. I had a ticket for Carnegie Hall. Duane died, the show was cancelled, then reinstated. I could see everyone was really bummed. Berry said how much Duane wanted to make the gig. I love this little clip of all of you. Thanks for putting it up. I play bass in an Allman Brothers tribute band in the San Francisco Bay Area.
    I totally agree with you on the GOP and the debt ceiling, by the way. They don't care about America, only their crazy philosophy of not taxes no matter what, and keeping rich corporations well heeled.

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  9. There was a recent 2 cd release of a concert from one of the festivals in 1970 that I have, and since I'm at work now I have no way of looking up the date, but I think it might be from the Atlanta Festival. I believe it was from July 1970 and it was also interupted by rain. If I am remembering the liner notes correctly a nasty thunderstorm came in during "Mountain Jam" and it had to be stopped and then restarted an hour or so later. It's interesting because when the band comes back they pick up where they left off but instead of the roaring blues that they had been playing, they come out and do a strange, John Coltrane like treatment of it. I'm wondering if this is the show you are refering to because there was a second performance after midnight sometime, which is the second cd. Unfortunately I can't remember the title and I didn't see it listed on the ABB web site.

    Brian

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  10. wow!! what a F!#$%^%g Band,give us more Butch.

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  11. Great blog entry Butch, so much in it to comment on, from the start of a new band, creating music, road managers, Atlanta Pop, and threw in Tolkien for good measure.
    That'd be Jacksonville to Macon to Byron to Middle Earth, all in an Econoline van!

    Corkball, wow, use to play it as a kid with my buddies when we lived in Memphis in the mid 70's. A sawed off broomstick, and somebody would come up with a wine cork (the occasional champagne cork if we got real lucky)
    Haven't thought about that in forever, good memories.
    Wonder if that was just part and parcel of growing up in the South during those days?

    Thanks again, for taking the time and effort to put this up, its truly unique, especially the "chill pill". Its much appreciated.

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  12. Thanks for your memories of the early days and especially the video!

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  14. @the wiredjournal...

    the Hobbit was first published in 1937 and the LOTR in 1954...

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  15. Hi Butch-

    It seems on the surface that the Ring in LOTR represents Absolute Power...as in absolute power corrupts absolutely...as the Ring eventually corrupts anyone who wields it....

    Tolkien was a devout Catholic and in his words the LOTR was a "fundamentally Christian" work...and yet he took great pains to keep it as agnostic as possible...

    Of course, being a philologist by trade he was steeped in ancient literature and borrowed generously from all sorts of sources...as fodder for his themes, plots and languages...

    ...and yet he couldn't help but be influenced by the current state of affairs around him as he struggled to write the book during the darkest days of WW2 with the forces of Mordor...er...Hitler marching across Europe...

    I am curious, Butch...Have you read the Silmarillion?

    What do you think the Silmarils represent?

    CSK~

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  16. Good writing, nice flow. Thanks for the intriguing thoughts and stories. Minus all the "wasted words" in response to the hecklers and cranks. One thing I've learned is closed minds are a lot like clams, they just shut up tighter when confronted by a threat, or anything out of the ordinary.

    You got a real nice book started here, Mr. Trucks, put me on the waiting list !

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  17. great stories Butch - seems like you are having a gran time here on the blog - look forward to many more

    boe

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  18. oh and please do talk a bit about Col Bruce and his appearance there with The Hampton Grease Band

    http://media.angelfire.lycos.com/preview/2642700/1024x1024-1413025.gif

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  19. To the anon re: Tolkien, believe me that is the first and most obvious way to look at the ring and my first reading went that way. Try, the ring represents that thing in you, an addition, a personal fear or weakness that you just despise. We'll get to it, but one reason that this myth stands the test of time is that, whether he was a Christian or an aesthetic, Tolkien wrote The trilogy with no religious intent at all. In fact as a philologist he was quoted as having started the trilogy as a way to develop a totally new and beautiful language. I have known people so familiar with the book that they wrote letters to each other in the Elvin tongue. If you study it close enough Tolkien gives you a rudimentary vocabulary in elvish. He was considered the world's most studied expert in Beowulf also. that wonderful combination of language and wyth gave us a true treasure.

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  20. What??? are you nuts!!

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  21. Great posts, Butch, love your insights on things and the stories about the original ABB. That footage just knocked me out. Being 20, all us young generation of fans have are the tapes, and thank goodness for those! Wish these videos of Duane would be released already, really see the legend and the great band in action!

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  22. Good that ya take a break from politics,things are pretty crazy out there and tempers run high.Unfotunately it aint easy to make a living out there. I have a very good job, make a nice living but i am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. so nothing soothes me better than when i get in my car and put onthe ABB, especially the live shows form the Beacon. Peace at last. EarlierI read a comment about burying the hatchet with Dickey. i do wish you all would, but i saw him recently in NJ and i really felt sorry for him. it was really bad, missing notes terribly, we all looked around and said what is he playing. no way could he make it in the current line up. Time is a mean thing. a guest appearance and a handshake between between you 3 and him would really mean a lot to a number of fans

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  23. Matt AdirondacksJuly 22, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    Cool insight- I love to read about the creative process behind certain songs. I remember a few years back when you did Eat A Peach live on Sirius and you were were talking/laughing about the difficulty of handling the all the strange time changes in Kind Of Bird. Would love to get your thoughts on what are some of the hardest tunes yu had to write drums for over the years...and keep it up with your personal/political and religious "rants" too- it's a free country (thank goodness) and being able to agree to disagree at times might be the best form of communication there is. Thanks Butch.

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  24. great stuff Butch.

    i know that you've previously stated that you're less than satisfied with some of the written accounts of the ABB. well keep these pots flowing. they might make up the foundation fpr the official account one day.

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  25. Awesome Vieo and Blog on the music THANK YOU!!!
    HELP FREE THE REST OF THE FOOTAGE!!!

    And whether you ever Shake his hand again or not I sure appreciate you acknowledging how important the addition of Dickey was in Part 1 of the Music post. Show him Love He NEEDS IT!

    P.S. Could you BE ANY MORE Liberal?

    J

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  26. Hi Butch-

    thanks for the reply on Tolkien- that is an interesting perspective on the Ring- can you expound?

    As for his languages...he had actually developed them long before the writing of the LOTR...in fact, when Bilbo found the Ring JRRT had no idea he was actually in Middle Earth...he had borrowed a few elements from his greater mythology and it soon became clear that he was had been pulled into the great stories that had been his life's work until that point...

    The Hobbit was originally just a silly story he developed for his kids...when the publisher wanted more "about Hobbits" he no choice but to open the door to the great ages of Middle Earth and write an adult book...

    Have you read the Silmarillion?

    Thanks again for the reply-

    CSK~

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  27. Thanks for the "middle of the day" pump. I love your blog and this little video is awesome

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  28. Amazing, great to get an inside look at how things went with you guys. Best ever ABB!

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  29. Thank you for sharing your Byron memories with us. I ride by the old race track everyday and wish it could talk. I was but 10 years old in 1970 but remember the press and excitement that the festival created.
    Thanks for the video... see that it is gone now but thanks for the chance to see it. It was like being in a time machine.

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  30. The video was awesome. Never knew something that nice from the Duane Era existed. Tell Byron to hurry it up damnit... :)

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  31. Dammit! I wasn't done watching the Pop Fest video.
    I want the whole world to see it so they know what we have known all along. ;-) That is a nice pic though...

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  33. For real Wired! I missed the video too~

    It is captivating, the voice of Gregg Allman! He was exceptional at the last Christmas Jam.

    Keep the stories jammin'! America loves a success story, especially in "times like these."

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  34. It's great to read all about the early days of the band. Keep the stories coming, man.
    I've been thinking for a while about how great it would be if you guys released the footage from the At Fillmore East show on DVD. If the footage was restored and the album recordings were overlayed onto it, I think it would make for an incredible experience. I think a lot of people would appreciate having the option to watch such a legendary show in full. Just thought I'd share my idea...

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  35. The Fillmore footage is from September 1970 not March 1971 as on the AFE album. The band evolved alot in those months. There may be footage of the 3/12 and 3/13 concerts but they're likely rotting away in the massive vaults once owned by Bill Graham, if they exist. There is blurry silent footage on youtube.

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  36. Thanks Butch. The video was really cool to see.
    I, like most ABB fans would love to finally see all of it and the Love Valley footage. Also I appreciate your blogs and enjoy reading your insight and feelings about what's going on in our country. Keep us in the loop . Thanks. Russ

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  37. Thanks for the history of the Atlanta Pop Festival. It kind of a forgotten festival until the Allmans' phenomenal set was released on cd a few years back. These stories are great for us fans, especially for those of us who couldn't be there.

    As for Tolkein, I always read that he abhorred allegory, especially religious allegory such as what CS Lewis infused his Narnia books with, and the Rings series was something he crafted (and later re-edited The Hobbit for continuity's sake) for 15 years after the publisher asked for another Hobbit book. Of course, nothing is ever created in a vacuum, and you there are plenty of influences of his vast knowledge of norse myth, and from his time in WWI. I always thought the ring as more of a MacGuffin - he never intended it to be more of a trinket when he wrote The Hobbit - it propels the story but the reader can draw meaning from it however they like.

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  38. To the "dude" with the video....boooo. What a great piece of history for you not to freely share with the world and enjoy it with you. Sure wish I could've seen it. Anyone, or Butch, know where I might could find it? I just don't understand the world sometimes.

    Peace and Allman Brothers

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  39. Butch,

    So many of us in love with the band's music from the Duane era and its continuing legacy. Any plans by the band to attempt to release a quality DVD of the Duane era? Hard to believe that this project has never been done. It seems every influential rock band has a video release from its seminal era.

    Don from San Jose

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