Monday, January 14, 2008

Duane Allman’s Guitars at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

We traveled to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, as we made our way around the Great Lakes. We arrived there a few hours before closing on the 4th of July, so it was not crowded and we got a parking place right up front.

I did not know what to expect, other than Duane Allman’s famous 1959 flame top Les Paul was there. So naturally I was anxious to see it. But we took our time going through all the other items – a Beatles exhibit with lots of notes and original lyrics, a Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster (that has been sold since, I have read), making that my third Hendrix Strat I have seen (Hard Rock Café in New York and Experience Music in Seattle). There was a wall of items from various American bands, including a Lowell George Stratocaster, Kurt Cobain guitar, and others that I can’t remember. There was so much there that it is hard to remember everything!

I turned the corner and came to the 1970’s exhibit and there it was – the famous tiger-striped 1959 Les Paul, a goldtop Les Paul from Dickey Betts, a Hammond organ from Gregg Allman and … surprise…Duane’s 1962 Les Paul/SG. That was the guitar he used for slide. I was not expecting that. The SG was given to Gerry Groom after Duane’s death, per Duane’s own request made way before his passing. After Gerry’s death, the family sold it to Graham Nash’s wife, who gave it to Graham as a birthday present. He in turn has loaned it to the Hall of Fame for people like me to see. I stood there for at least 10 minutes soaking all of this in.

Photo by bkurth - Flickr
After that, we made our way to the second floor. On the wall, I saw two Les Paul sunbursts. Low and behold, it was Duane’s first 1958 sunburst – the one he used on the Fillmore East album. (On the photo right with the uncovered pickups.) Now the flametop 59 gets all the attention. There are tons of pictures of him with the flame top, and it was assumed that was the Fillmore guitar. No – it was not. He did not own that guitar until mid-1971, after the Fillmore East recording. In front of me, on the wall under glass, was the Fillmore guitar. The Fillmore East album is the reason I ever started playing guitar. I was able to examine this guitar in detail, wishing I could take it out and play it for a few minutes. However, these guitars will never be played much anymore.

Next Duane’s burst was Gary Rossington’s burst, although I do not know the year of it or if it was his main guitar he used all those years. It was great too see these two historic guitars side by side, and on the wall, where you could take a close look at them. No pictures are allowed so I have nothing to show.

photo copyright crazy jim wggns all rights  reserved
Duane traded his 1957 Goldtop Les Paul in Florida for this guitar, allegedly exchanging the pickups from the 57 into the 58. Layla was recorded on the 57, but shortly thereafter, he got the burst. And here it was. I do recall that Duane’s daughter owns these Les Paul’s and has loaned them for exhibit.

The 57 Goldtop stayed in a private collection in Florida for years, and if I recall correctly, it was sold not too long ago. Edit: The 57 goldtop is now on display at the Big House, Allman Brothers museum in Macon, where it is played often at local concerts. Vince Gill played this guitar at a concert in Macon. It is on Youtube and is simply amazing.

Duane’s other guitars are: a 1960 Les Paul Jr., his first electric that ended up in Delany Bramlett’s hands. Duane wanted it back but Delany wouldn’t sell it. That guitar is owned by a Japanese businessman, who apparently is quite a good guitarist and uses the Jr. on stage.

Duane’s 50’s 1956 sunburst Stratocaster is at the London Hard Rock Café vault. Another Stratocaster is at the Hard Rock in Florida, if I recall. He played Stratocasters while a session player at Muscle Shoals. If you listen to” Goin Down Slow” off of the Duane Allman Anthology album, you will hear his Stratocaster tones. Tone is in the fingers and the trademark licks are there in full force. He is mostly associated with the Les Paul, and these session recordings prove that he played and sounded remarkably the same on any guitar.

His Tele with the Strat neck from the Hourglass days was stolen, and the whereabouts of his Gibson ES-335 is unknown. He played this guitar before the Hourglass, probably in the Allman Joys.

He is pictured at Muscle Shoals on a post-CBS sunburst Stratocaster with a rosewood neck and black plastic, but I have never read anything about that guitar.

He gave a 1961 Sunburst Stratocaster to Delany Bramlett, which I recall is still owned by Delany.

Duane also played a Gibson ES-335 in his early days before The Hourglass. Here is a clip of a man supposedly playing this guitar. There is no story to tell where this guitar has been all these years.


Duane playing his Gibson ES-335

Derek Trucks now owns Duane's 50 watt Marshall amp used on the Fillmore East album.
Here is a quite from its former owner:

Regarding the '69 Duane Allman Marshall, I brought it to the sound check for a Derek Trucks Band - Eric Johnson show on 2/13/2001. I remember the date because Susan had flown in that day for Valentines Day, which was the following day. Derek tried it out backstage with his main SG, & it was undeniably, the Fillmore one. Very distinctive fullness & sustain. Derek used the amp for the encores when he, Susan, & Mike sat in with Eric's band. George McCorkle & I had several discussions about the appropriate thing to do with the amp when it was time to pass it along, & we both agreed that for a variety of reasons, it would go to Derek. Over 10 years later, we worked out a deal that puts the amp where it should stay. I am happy to hear that it was used on this album.


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Duane was the best. Didnt really matter what guitar he played, he could get the feel, the tone, and the vibe to make whatever song he was playing 'over the top'.
When he played that '59 tobacco LP, it was a match made in heaven.
Rock on Brother Duane...

Greg said...

I was told that Eddy Shaver had Duane's sunburst 335 for a while ..I dont know ...is the strat in Florida the Muscle Shoals strat that is the one I would love to see !!!

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