Duane Allman - Allman Joys and Hour Glass

Allman Joys and Hour Glass

The two Allman brothers started playing publicly in 1961, joining or forming a number of small, local groups. Shortly thereafter, Duane quit high school to stay home during the day and focus on his guitar playing. Their band the Escorts opened for The Beach Boys in 1965 but disbanded and eventually became the Allman Joys. After Gregg graduated from Seabreeze High School in 1965, the Allman Joys went on the road, performing throughout the Southeast and eventually being based in Nashville and St. Louis, Missouri.

The Allman Joys morphed into another not-completely-successful band, The Hour Glass, which moved to Los Angeles in early 1967. There the Hour Glass produced two albums that left the band unsatisfied. Liberty, their record company, tried to market them as a pop band, completely ignoring the band's desire to play more blues-oriented material.

In 1968, Gregg Allman went to visit Duane on his 22nd birthday. Duane was sick in bed. Gregg brought along a bottle of Coricidin pills for his fever and the debut album by guitarist Taj Mahal as a gift. "About two hours after I left, my phone rang," Gregg states. "Baby brother, baby brother, get over here now!" When Gregg got there, he found that Duane had poured the pills out of the bottle, washed off the label and was using it as a slide to play "Statesboro Blues", an old Blind Willie McTell song that Taj Mahal covered. "Duane had never played slide before," says Gregg, "he just picked it up and started burnin'. He was a natural." The song would go on to become a part of the Allman Brothers Band's repertoire, and Duane's slide guitar became crucial to their sound.

The Hour Glass broke up in early 1968, and Duane and Gregg Allman went back to Florida, where they played on demo sessions with the 31st of February, a folk rock outfit whose drummer was Butch Trucks. Gregg returned to California to fulfill Hour Glass obligations, while Duane jammed around Florida for months but didn't get another band going.

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