Keep On Growing

Released on the album:
"Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs"
(Atco SD-2-704, 1970)

In the guestbook of this website some remarks are posted about the possibility of Duane Allman playing on this track:

. . . . . "I'd like to have "Keep on Growing" considered as an unconfirmed track. While I realize that the very thorough "Layla Sessions- 20th Anniversary Edition" indicates Duane not being present on the track, there is more here than meets the eye. There is a tripling of lead guitars on the track. While Clapton had used overdubs these are longer than on such tracks as "Politician". Also it was Duane's nature to do things spontaneously. I could well envision him and Tom Dowd one evening going into Criteria Studios to take a listen to the track that the rest of the band had "finished" before Duane arrived for the album sessions. I could just see Tom and Duane saying "pretty cool" but then thinking "you know, I think we might be able to add even a little more punch here". Out comes the guitar, Tom opens up a track at the console, and Duane wails away (maybe even on a borrowed Stratocaster). They smoke a joint, take a listen to the remix, say that it's even more cool than before, and head out into the Miami night. Oh, and Tom never documents the track placement, since this was typically the responsibility of his engineers, particularly Chuck Kirkpatrick. Likely, plausible, what do you think?" . . . . .

. . . . . "Well, dzobo said 'Keep On Growing' should be considered as an unconfirmed track and I agree that. I read Randy Poe's fine work and know the consequences of that session. So telling on the recording of the 'Keep On Growing', Duane did not play at all does make sense. There's no Gibson, I agree. I've been wondering why Eric Clapton was playing as Duane did. There're some licks stamped Duane Allman. I thought Clapton had stolen the lick and over dubbed. Sadly enough I think Mr. Clapton has not had so much creative idea as Duane did, so that has been my mystery for 40 years. Then I finally found the answer here, I think". . . . . .

. . . . . "Well, about the Layla session, especially the recording of 'Keep On Growing' , I'm not for sure how far Duane involved, though I listened to that tune again and again. Anyhow, I'm sure the tune is not the best one in the album, but I still wonder who played the guitar in the middle of that tune heard from the center channel. It's played by Mr. Clapton, probably. In listening the whole album again, I reconfirmed the Album was for a fan of Duane and Jim Gordon's. Yes, I'm a big Jim Gordon's fan, who was the drummer with the best sense of time in the history, I think. I don't care whose idea the coda of 'Layla', though. DUANE was the lead guitarist in that album, you know, without him that would have gone nowhere. Who's listened to the Blind Faith sessions jam will agree that". . . . . .

According to the liner notes of the 3CD box set "The Layla Sessions - 20th Anniversary Edition" (Polydor 847 083-2, 1990) and the 2CD "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)" (Polydor 0600753314296, 2011) the musicians on this track are:
Eric Clapton - Guitars, Vocals
Bobby Whitlock - Organ, Piano, Vocals
Carl Radle - Bass, Percussion
Jim Gordon - Drums, Percussion

Recorded September 1, 1970
Overdubbed September 1, September 2, September 5 & September 9

There are two different recording sheets for this track:

Version 1 shows that the basic track was recorded on September 1.
Eric Clapton's guitar parts on channels 5 & 12 were overdubbed that same day.
Congas & tambourine on channel 11 were overdubbed on September 2.
Eric Clapton's & Bobby Whitlock's vocals were overdubbed on September 5.
A lead guitar part by Duane Allman was mentioned on channel 3,
but this was crossed out again.
It is not clear whether this guitar part was actually recorded
or deleted after the recording.

Version 2 shows that a lead guitar part by Eric Clapton
was overdubbed on channel 3 on September 9.
Bobby Whitlock's vocals on channel 13,
Eric Clapton's vocals on channel 14,
cowbell & maracas on channel 15
and tunable toms & cymbals on channel 16
were also overdubbed on September 9.

In his book "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs By Derek And The Dominos" (Rodale, 2006, page 126) Jan Reid writes about 'Keep On Growing':

. . . . . "Bell Bottom Blues" is a breathtaking piece of music, and nine more of the songs to come are just as good. After that cut, Allman's play becomes a growing force on the record. Whitlock, who later joked that he was fighting for his life on his keyboard, in danger of being drowned by all the guitars, lets go a shout of triumph as they as they explore one of his own personal feats on the record, "Keep On Growing." Clapton and Allman had initially composed it as an instrumental, and it would have been cut from the album if Whitlock hadn't rushed out into the lobby to write the lyrics. He came back with the words in less than 20 minutes. On this one, Whitlock sings the lead and Clapton provides harmony. It's about a young man hell-bent on trouble  -  he had believed the sweet-talking woman who told him everything was going to work out fine, that love would find a way. The guitar duet begins with Allman playing slide, but when the singing ends, Clapton goes off on one of his characteristic high-pitched tears. Allman stays right with him, setting aside both his Coricidin bottle and the customary style of playing rhythm chords in second lead; he unleashes a note-blending flurry reminiscent of the one that made his reputation behind Wilson Pickett on "Hey Jude." . . . . .

Unfortunately Jan Reid does not mention whether he has any confirmation about Duane Allman's contribution to the track.

On December 4, 2006 a message from Jan Reid, the author of the book "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs By Derek And The Dominos" (Rodale, 2006) was posted in the forum of the official Allman Brothers Band website

"To Hittin’ the Web:

I much appreciate the attention and support that John Lynskey and Hittin’ the Note have brought to my new book Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos. A bonus of all this has been the coincidence that brought out my book and Randy Poe’s fine biography of Duane Allman, Skydog, within a few weeks of each other. The evolution of Derek and the Dominos and their creative intersection with the Allman Brothers Band produced some of the best music and one of the most compelling human dramas of our time. I’m honored to have had the chance to help tell the story.

I wanted to respond to the recent post of CarlosofCoronado and thank him for his close reading. Any thorough book of history and reporting contains one or two assertions of fact per sentence. (If it doesn’t, it’s padded.) So far, three apparent errors of fact in Layla have been brought to my attention by readers, and I whacked my forehead on seeing one. There will likely be more; I hope they’re small ones. Two were the results of typographical errors that many sets of eyes failed to catch. But that’s no excuse. Getting the facts right — and owning up to it when I don’t — is my responsibility as a reporter; any lapses are not the fault of my sources. Incorrect placement of Duane in the jam that led to “Keep On Growing” was my misunderstanding and misreading of a transcript, not Bobby Whitlock’s. Early response to the book indicates there will soon be another printing. Rest assured I’ll be addressing every query and observation in the quest to hear the notes right.

Jan Reid"

On we found the following information:

Q: What songs did Allman play on Layla and Assorted Other Love Songs (also fondly called The Layla Album)?
During the Layla sessions, 14 basic songs were recorded and mixed and Allman contributed to nearly all of them.
He showed off his original slide style on “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out” which complemented Clapton’s solo playing while adding a new dimension to this old blues standard. Allman’s elegant slide guitar hastened and greatly enhanced “Layla”, which was recorded on 9 September. Whitlock’s piano leads into a lamented finale with Clapton and Allman crying out to each other through their guitars. “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” begins with Allman playing without the aid of his slide. This duet between the two guitarists pushed Clapton to some of his best work. Allman’s slide on “Any Day” added the perfect touch to Clapton and Whitlock’s soulful lyrics.
“He [Allman] brought the best out of us, even with the songwriting,” Whitlock recalls. “ Like ‘Any Day’. Eric and I had already written it, but then Duane came up with the slide part. He said, ‘Hey, check this out. Let’s make it like a Roman chariot race’.”
Allman also played on the following songs on
The Layla Album: (the jams and alternate takes are available on The Layla Sessions -- 20th Anniversary Edition Box Set: “Key of E Jam”; “Key of A Jam”; “It Hurts Me Too”; “Keep on Growing”; “I Am Yours”; “Key to the Highway”; “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”; “Little Wing”; “It’s Too Late”; “It’s Too Late” (alternate take); “Thorn Tree In a Garden”; and “Mean Old World” (several takes with a version also appearing in the Crossroads box set). Incidentally, on sides 1,2,3, and 4 of The Layla Album, all the songs are right in the order they were cut from the first day through to "Layla"and then "Thorn Tree".

On October 5, 2009 we received the following message from Don 'dzobo' Sobocinski:

Thanks for your diligence regarding this matter.  Appreciate your gathering together so many sources.
One item I would like to add is that I had a correspondence with Bobby Whitlock and his partner CoCo Carmel shortly after the Jan Reid book came out.  I particularly asked him about the exact quote concerning "Keep on Growing" that you have included.  Here is the response that was written by Coco but provided by Bobby:

"Bobby was sent the unedited version of the book to proof read and somehow completely missed that statement about Duane and Eric writing the jam of "Keep on Growing. Duane is not on the track , it was not written by Duane and Eric (Duane was not at this particular session). It was a jam and was nearly dropped, Bobby loved the whole feel of the song and wanted a chance to come up with lyrics, which he did and they performed it Sam and Dave style. Duane was much beloved, and no-one would ever try to diminish his wonderful contributions."

The date of this correspondence is December 2, 2006.

Even though it is strong evidence that goes against what I'm trying to prove I think that it is important to include in trying to make a determination regarding this issue.  You have my permission to add it to the thread.

One of the easiest ways to resolve this whole matter would be if someone could gain access to the original tape and then select and listen to the individual tracks and match them against the written record.  If there is a guitar track in an unexpected place things could get interesting.


On October 26, 2009 Dusty Sommers posted the following message in the forum of the official Allman Brothers Band website

Well heres what Bobby [Whitlock] said back in late july....

Eric did all of the guitar work himself. I watched as he layered each guitar on "Keep On Growing" when it was an instrumental at first. I was watching the Master at work. How very fortunate I am to have been a part of that great record and band. When we were playinging we just did what we felt like doing. It was always changing. Sometimes in the middle of the set. As a matter of fact we could count on it.  ~BW~

when his book comes out next year it will be a good one!
All the Best

On October 28, 2009 Butch Trucks, drummer of The Allman Brothers Band, posted the following message in the forum of the official Allman Brothers Band website

Duane did not play on Bell Bottom Blues, although it was the track he seemed to like the most when he came to New York from doin the sessions. I believe he played on the other tracks.

On November 22, 2009 Don 'dzobo' Sobocinski posted the following message in the forum of the official Allman Brothers Band website

Recently contacted Chuck Kirkpatrick, one of the engineers on the Layla sessions. I specifically asked if he knew more about the cross-out of Duane's name on the the original tracking list for "Keep on Growing". In his kind reply he said he has no specific recall of what happened regarding the cross-out. However, he did mention that "I'd find it hard to believe that Duane would be erased from anything...the cross-out could have been an error." He also mentions that "the track sheets with the block printing are mine. Also note my stupidity in not using my name but simply printing "staff" in the engineer box. At first, I was not the least bit interested in that session and was one of 4 engineers working in rotation. Needless to say, my musical life was changed forever by that exposure."

In going over the entire set of tracking sheets for the Layla album the ones that Chuck notated either did say "staff" or had no one listed as the engineer. Chuck's block printing (all CAPS) is on the second KOG tracking sheet. It's obviously not his writing style on the first KOG tracking sheet where Duane's name is crossed-out. So someone else probably made the original mistake, if it was a mistake and not the track being erased.

From "Layla's 40th: The Where's Eric! Interview With Bobby Whitlock"
published on April 26, 2011 on:

Let me tell you about how one of the songs came together. The sessions started out with the four of us. Eric, Carl, Jim and me. Derek and the three Dominos. When we started the recording process we treated it the same way that we treated our live performances. No different. We always started out where ever we were with a jam or two. No matter if it was Royal Albert Hall or the Speakeasy.
In the studio nothing changed in that department. We jammed before "I Looked Away", then into the song. Then we jammed before and into "Bell Bottom Blues".
The third song was about to go down, so we did our usual jam and it was astounding! It had a groove like never before. Then suddenly Eric said, "Let me put another guitar on it!" He did as I was standing in the doorway of the control room and looking at him through the glass about eight feet away from me. The song ended and he said again, "Let me put another one on." He played the second over-dub without listening to the first one. When that was finished he said, "Let's do another." He put the third guitar part on without listening to the other two over-dubs while he was recording. When that one was finished he said, "Just one more." Eric heard only the original guitar while he was doing the over-dubs. He could hear what he had already done in his head. When he was finished he got up and walked in and said, "Let's hear what they all sound like together." It was amazing what we heard back. All of the guitars blended together as if they had been worked out long before the session. It was incredible standing there watching and listening to Eric the master at work. I felt like a fly on the wall. I thought that was a-kin to watching Rembrandt at work. What a very special moment for me. And now you all!
When we had finished listening to it Tom said that it was going to the can because we didn't have room on this record for an instrumental. I said to them, "Give me twenty minutes!" I took a yellow note pad and a pencil out into the foyer of Criteria and my relatively short life fell out of me, words and melody and all, so fast that I could hardly get them down on the paper. When I was finished I went back into the studio where Eric and Tom had been waiting in the control room for me to finish. The mike was there waiting for me, so I walked up to it and started to sing the song. I got half way through the first verse when I stopped it and said to Eric, "Hey man come on out here and let's do our Sam and Dave thing to it." Eric came out and we did it first run through. First take! That was it! And the song "Keep On Growing" had been born.

In his book "A Rock 'n' Roll Autobiography" (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2011, page 94) Bobby Whitlock writes about 'Keep On Growing':

"This song started out as a great jam. I can't remember how many guitars Eric put on it. I think it was four, and they all played off each other beautifully. I'll never forget watching as Eric layered them, one by one. It was a case of next, second guitar, next, third guitar, next, fourth guitar. It was an incredible experience watching the master at work. Tom Dowd said that there wasn't room for a jam on this record because it was initially slated to be a single album. We really didn't have enough songs for one record, much less two. They were going to can this song and not use it. I asked for twenty minutes and took a yellow paper pad and a pencil out into the foyer and started to open myself for it to flow and it did, like a waterfall. The words and their meaning just poured out of me. It was about my life and its changes and being young and free and innocent. It is a song of hope. I went back in the studio and tried to put the vocal on with me singing it by myself and stopped in the middle of the first verse. I told Eric that we should do our Sam and Dave thing with it. We sing together and then I sing a verse, and then we sing together again and then I do another verse. That was our thing. We did it first take. The guitar work on the fade is awesome."

In his book "All Things Must Pass Away" (Chicago Review Press, 2021) Kenneth Womack writes about 'Keep On Growing':

"On September 1, the Allman-inflected Dominos tried their hand at a newly concocted Clapton and Whitlock original, "Keep on Growing," complete with Clapton and Whitlock's lead vocals and Clapton overdubbing a pair of lead-guitar tracks. Suddenly in need of lyrics, Whitlock slipped out of the session and hastily penned the words to "Keep on Growing." As he later recalled, "It was like I was expressing my relatively short, inexperienced life. And when I was through writing, I went back into the studio. Eric and Tom were in the control room, and I said, 'Hit record.' I got halfway through the first verse, and I said, 'Stop!' I said, 'Come out here and sing this with me, Eric. Let's do our Sam & Dave thing.' And he did, and it just happened like that. It's exactly what you hear on the recording." Meanwhile, Clapton superimposed additional slide-guitar tracks onto "Tell the Truth," which led Allman to quip that "Eric is coming along on his slide. He's doing okay." He added in jest, "He ain't no Duane Allman of the slide guitar, but he’s doing all right!" Allman polished off the evening by overdubbing a new lead guitar part onto "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad."


The version as it appeared on the album  

"Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs":

If Duane Allman plays on this track,  
it can probably be heard best in the left channel.  

Left channel:

Right channel:

Carl Radle, keen to hear and playback the rehearsal and recording going on  
during the Layla sessions, took in his portable cassette player.  

This is the instrumental version from 'Carl Radle's private tapes':