On this day in 1971, Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia. The guitar virtuoso was only 24 years old but had already become a mythical musical figure, launching what became known as southern rock.
Allman started out as a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, before teaming up with his little brother Gregg to form The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. While the band has been recording and performing ever since, classics like “Midnight Rider,” “Whipping Post” and the famous cover of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” were recorded in its first two years.
During that time, Allman continued to serve as a session musician. He would drop in unannounced at recording sessions and play for cash, but not production credit. Because of this, there is no telling of the full extent of the albums where his work appears. One song that he definitely played slide guitar for was Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and that has only added to his legend.
While on break, Allman was riding his motorcycle through Macon when a log truck stopped in an intersection. He swerved but struck a part of it and was thrown from his motorcycle. He died several hours later after suffering severe internal injuries.
When music publications list the greatest guitarists of all time, Allman is generally ranked in the top ten, if not the top five.