The Band Reforms in 1978
The band eventually reformed in 1978, with guitarist Dan Toler and David “Rook” Goldflies on bass as replacements for Leavell and Williams. The Allman Brothers released Enlightened Rogues, Reach for the Sky and Brothers on the Road from 1979-81, but the albums didn’t find great success since musical tastes across the country had shifted to disco. Capricorn Records went bankrupt in 1979.
Gregg Allman continued to battle both drug-related and financial issues throughout the 1980s, and other members tried different projects, without much success. The band had a brief reunion in 1986 for a couple of benefit concerts, but it didn’t get back together formally until 1989 for its 20th anniversary, with an overhauled lineup: the four original living members, plus guitarist Warren Haynes, keyboardist Johnny Neel and bassist Allen Woody. The band had success with its 1990 album Seven Turns.
The group’s lineup continued to evolve, and the band eventually added guitarist Derek Trucks (Butch’s nephew), percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge.
In 1995, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with such acts as Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Al Green, Martha & The Vandellas, Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa. The band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and Gregg Allman was inducted as a solo artist in 2006.
Still, it wasn’t an end to the drama associated with the band. In 2000, Betts was forced out for “creative reasons”, according to Entertainment Weekly magazine. Betts told the magazine he was informed via a faxed message and that it implied the reason was because of alcohol and substance abuse issues, which Betts vehemently denied. Betts has since formed his own band, Great Southern.
Despite it all, the band’s current lineup continues to find great success in its 40th year. In March, the band played its annual series at the Beacon Theatre in New York, playing to sold-out shows with guests such as Clapton and Bonnie Bramlett. The Big House Foundation, which owns the band’s old haunt on Vineville Avenue, is converting the house into a museum that is scheduled to open by December.
Most importantly, the band’s legacy in music history remains secure.
Red Dog Campbell: It was the best time of my life. ... When no one accepted me, they changed everything and gave me direction.
Chuck Leavell: They invented a style of music. They were solely responsible for Southern Rock. It’s still a very viable term. A lot of it has morphed into modern country music. It was a unique band that incorporated rock music, jazz, country. ... The legacy is living on, and it’s amazing to see the young people understanding it and knowing they are there. ... For a young person coming in, it was a large step in my career. I took a giant step playing with the Allmans, and it was an opportunity to play great music.
Willie Perkins: They did what nobody else had done. They brought jazz and blues and rock and country together. The fact that they have 40 years together and the music is still on the radio says quite a bit there. The best time was that early time. We knew we had the best band in the world, just that the rest of the world didn’t know it yet.
Linda Oakley Miller: My regret is that Duane and Berry didn’t live to enjoy the fruits of their labor. (The band) changed the way people listened to music.
Gregg Allman: Actually, the way things are, the band is at an all-time high. Just because it’s the 40th year doesn’t mean we are fixing to slow down or stop. The last thing we did (at the Beacon) was so damn fun. It was a great experience, and I’m proud to be a member.
A list of the Allman Brothers Band albums:
1969: The Allman Brothers Band
1970: Idlewild South
1971: At Fillmore East (Live)
1972: Eat a Peach (Part Live)
1973: Brothers and Sisters
1975: Win, Lose or Draw
1976: Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas (Live)
1979: Enlightened Rogues
1980: Reach for the Sky
1981: Brothers of the Road
1990: Seven Turns
1991: Shades of Two Worlds
1992: An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set (Live)
1994: Where It All Begins
1995: An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set (Live)
2000: Peakin’ at the Beacon (Live)
2003: Hittin’ the Note
2004: One Way Out (Live)
Books about The Allman Brothers Band:
Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band by Scott Freeman
No Saints, No Sinners: My Years with the Allman Brothers Band by Willie Perkins
Skydog: The Duane Allman Story by Randy Poe
The Allman Brothers Band by Peter Gregory
Street Singers, Soul Shakers, Rebels With a Cause: Macon Music by Candice Dyer
Legendary Red Dog: A Book of Tails by Joseph “Red Dog” Campbell
Documentaries about The Allman Brothers Band:
Please Call Home: The Big House Years - Bright Blue Sky Productions
—Compiled by Phillip Ramati