JON TIVEN / NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS:
Duane Allman and Berry Oakley
(New Haven, CT, December 10, 1970)
Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are
respectively, the guitarist and bassist for the Allman Brothers
Band. Between shows at University of New Haven, I got to rap a
bit with them, and the following is a transcript of that
When did the Allman Brothers first get together as a band
rather than a backing group?
Duane Allman: I don't know, that just gradually changed
over, it has no specific date. Since the second album's done
well we just stopped taking backing gigs and stuff...not stopped
taking them, you know, but we've tried to cool it a bit.
When did you first meet the rest of the band?
Duane: Down in Florida two years ago in the wintertime.
Me and Jaimoe got together in Alabama and we went south and got
all the other cats together. Went back to make it where our
offices are; we're close to the business, keep from getting
screwed, you knew, keep an eye on things.
What artists have you enjoyed most playing behind?
Duane: Laura Nyro, John Hammond, King Curtis, and Eric
What's the most recent backing work you've done?
Duane: Laura Nyro - one cut off her new album called
'Beads of Sweat' and I didn't play much on that, just a couple
of licks. It was real enjoyable man, she's a real outasight
chick and a fantastic artist and composer.
Where was the Clapton album recorded?
Duane: In Miami at Criterion [sic; Criteria]
Studios - that's the best.
What was the story behind your involvement in the group?
Duane: Well, I went down there to watch them make that
record because I was interested in it, I thought "Well now, the
cat's got him a band", because I've been an admirer of Eric
Clapton for a long, long time; I've always dug his playing, he
inspired me a lot and I always just personally dug his playing.
Figured I'd get a chance to meet him and watch this thing go
down, y'know, so I went down. So when I saw him he acted like he
knew me, like I was an old friend, "Hey man, how are you" y'know.
And he said "As long as you're here we want you to get on this
record and make it with us, we need more guitar players anyway",
so I did, I was real flattered and glad to be able to do it.
What's your favorite place to play?
Berry: Stonybrook College in New York...
Duane: Or the Warehouse in New York [sic; The
Warehouse is in New Orleans], man, I always get
off there. Yeah, and the Fillmore has good sound.
Berry: In Detroit, the East Town Theatre has fantastic
Why do you have Guild pickups on your Fender bass?
Berry: I used to have a Guild bass, and I like the way it
sounded but I didn't like the bass, so I put 'em on there to see
what'd happen. I just prefer the Fender, I like the long neck.
How did you come to use 2 drummers?
Duane: We've had them from the first 'cause we knew we
was going to be playing loud, and both cats can play everything
they need to play if there's two of them instead of one cat
having to flog his ass of the whole night.
How was Adrian Barber as a producer (on the 1st album)?
Duane: He was good to us, he was outasite. Man, we were
satisfied with him, he's a fine cat... pretty much turned the
knobs for us.
Are you happy with your second album?
Duane: Yeah, we are. Tom Dowd - a master, an artist.
We're really gonna be happy with the next one.
Where's that going to be recorded?
Duane: Partly live at the Warehouse, part in the studio
in Miami. We've got an eight-track that's nice, and we're going
to the mountains for two weeks to write, bringin' an eight-track
with us up there and do some of it there, yeah, we might get
something out of that. We've got some tapes already from the
Atlanta Pop Festival and Love Valley which was all recorded and
if that's any good we'll use that.
When you write a song, do you wait for the inspiration, or
do you just sit down and say, "I'm gonna write me a song"?
Duane: I don't write, I don't know how, and if you ever
find out please tell me.
Berry: Greg originally wrote all our stuff and then
Dickie [sic] wrote some on the new album. Yeah, he sat down and tried
to write, but if he didn't feel it he didn't write it.
Duane: Yeah, if you got something you wanna say and have
people hear it, a song is a good way. People can really dig
songs; everybody loves music but not everyone loves messages.
Why didn't you use the Muscle Shoals studios as you're so
familiar with it?
Duane: I don't know, man, we just started recording and
before we got down there we got done, y'know so we didn't go. I
hope we do sometimes. The Stones did a hell of a thing there, I
Did you learn guitar by ear?
Duane: Yeah, I can't read.
Who are your influences?
Duane: Man, everything I ever heard - WLHC radio.
Do you listen to the radio?
Duane: Now? No, not at all. Some records: Miles Davis
(early Miles) and John Coltrane and Robert Johnson, Junior
Wells, Muddy Waters; see, you get a goal in mind, a note that
you want to hit with your band and then you gotta go out on the
road and your spiritual battery runs down. You get home and you
listen to that stuff and say "Ah, there it is, I have it before
me, I know what to do" and you go out and do it.
Did you have a lot of trouble getting gigs before you were
a name band?
Duane: Yeah, nobody knew our name. People are like
monkeys, you have to tell them "Man, this is outasight" and they
say "Ah - it is, isn't it?" - well, nobody told 'em.
When was your first big break?
Duane: Getting with Atlantic Records. Atlantic, man, they
dig our music. And Ahmet (Ertegun), the president, he loves to
listen to good sides, man. You go right to him and bang on his
door "Ahmet, Ahmet, something's screwed" and he says "What?" you
say "This" and he says "We'll change it" and it's done, you
don't have to fool around. There ain't none of that crap, he
solid and it's a good label.
Do you listen to a lot of jazz stuff?
Duane: Man, I have a pitifully small knowledge of jazz -
Roland Kirk is clean outa-sight. 'Kind of Blue' album by Miles
is the one that just kills me. There's an album called 'Jazz
Tracks' [sic; Jazz Track] by Miles that's really good...Miles' 'Greatest Hits'
just came out on Columbia is fantastic. 'Best of 'Trane' on
Impulse and 'Best of 'Trane' on Atlantic both are
unbelievable...hear a man's life work in half an hour, an hour.
You've played with Johnny Winter, haven't you?
Duane: Yeah, I seen him this morning, came to our room.
Good bottleneck, good player all around. I prefer his music to
his show...I prefer music to any show.
You're playing colleges now, aren't you?
Duane: All different things: colleges, concerts,
Do you get a chance to live home at all?
Duane: Gypsies ain't got no home, I'm at home when I'm
with my people; I'm always at home, I'm home now.
I take it you like it.
Duane: I love it.
...and with that closing comment they left to do the
© Jon Tiven, 1970