Duane Allman, the original co-lead guitarist in The Allman Brothers, and who remains one of that instrument’s greatest titans, a pioneer who in a breathtakingly short amount of time managed to trailblaze the entire rock/blues/jazz idiom, tragically died 45 years ago today at the age of 24.
For many people, although his musical career was staggering brief, Duane Allman still remains one of the greatest if not possibly the greatest guitarist of all time. That platitude is usually applied rather irresponsibly, but a clear case can easily be made for Duane Allman which quantifies that aforementioned statement. Nicknamed “Skydog,” Allman had a panache and organic skill to his instrument unlike many others who have gone on to legendary heights and status. He seemed to transcend his instrument and genre, employing relentless and soulful leads on the guitar, a rare kind of a one-two punch combination of speed and emotionality which when fused together, and acting in metaphoric and literal concert with the rest of The Allman Brothers which took from a musical playbook of sounds, electrified Deep South-styled blues. Being the rare band that not only played songs that stretched time and conventional imagination but also created hits, The Allman Brothers, led by the sonic panacea of Duane Allman, has remained for the ages in musical history, a key influence both for the musicians who followed and the fans who listened.