PHOTO: John Gellman
On October 28, Rounder will offer a limited-edition vinyl version of the retrospective. Each of the 1,000 individually numbered copies will include all the music from the CD editions—129 tracks—on 14, 180-gram vinyl LPs.
The set also includes a 56-page booklet full of rare photos and essays by journalist Scott Schinder and Duane's daughter, Galadrielle Allman, who compiled the collection with producer Bill Levenson.
This retrospective includes classic Allman Brothers Band songs plus a collector’s cache of rare singles and long-out-of-print album tracks. The songs range from Duane's early recordings with Gregg Allman in the Escorts, Allman Joys and Hour Glass, to his studio work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs and Delaney & Bonnie. There's even a live jam session with the Grateful Dead.
Below, check out our exclusive Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (vinyl edition) unboxing video—plus a new interview wth Galadrielle. We discuss Skydog, her father’s legacy, her career and more.
What would you like people to take away from this new vinyl package?
The real desire with this package—and also with my book—is to humanize Duane, to take him out of the pantheon of the gods and return him to the mortal world. One where you can actually fall in love with the guitar, work really hard and achieve. The albums hang together really well and there’s a story there about his growth and style strengthening and developing. If you listen chronologically, you can hear him growing and changing. By the end, you hear the full-blown master of improvisational rock guitar.
You mentioned your book, Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. What made you decide to write it?
I‘ve always been focused on writing and really had a sense of being born into his amazing story. I actually started it in my twenties but backed off because of the scale and scope of it. But when I turned 40, I said that if it’s going to happen, it has to be now. I took the better part of three years doing the research and the next two years doing the writing. It was an incredibly fulfilling and satisfying experience.
Was there a particular moment in your life when you realized the enormity of your father’s contributions to guitar and music?
There really isn’t one particular time that I remember of becoming aware. When I was a child in the early Seventies, they are at the peak of their power playing stadiums. Some of my earliest memories are of being at concerts, but the thing that’s incredible is that the legacy and admiration for my father has only grown during my lifetime. He was a revered guitar player, but a lot a people didn’t know that he played on Layla and all of the other work he did outside of the Allman Brothers Band. Just the depth of his session playing and the incredible way it goes through every genre of American music. It’s an incredible accomplishment for somehow who lived for less than twenty-five years.
Of all of your father’s works, are there any that stand out to you as extra special?
There are so many that have his special fire. I love the song “Please Be with Me,” which is where my book got its title. That sentiment is something I’d want to say to him. I also really love his acoustic slide playing. That moves me and feels really intimate. It’s like you’re sitting in a room with him. There are a lot of treasures of music in this collection that are really heartfelt and come from a place of passion.
Was Gregg the one who introduced Duane to the guitar?
Yes. When Gregg was really young, he got a paper route in order to buy his first guitar. Duane became fascinated with it and the two of them would often struggle over who would get a turn. By Christmas, their mom had bought a second guitar to keep Duane from torturing him over it. But Gregg taught Duane all of the initial licks. He also has a great line about it. He says, “Duane passed me up like I was standing still!” [laughs].
What would you say is the most important thing anyone has ever told you about your dad?
Everyone in his band at a different moment has looked me in the eyes and said they’ve never known anyone else like him. He had an incredible level of personal intensity and drive as well as a certainty that they would succeed. They still invoke him as the first person who made them believe that they could play on a high level. He was the fire, and they all give him credit for that.
Are there any other projects you’re working on?
I’m working on a novel right now. It’s a story about teenage friendship and the impact listening to music together and going to shows has on their lives. It’s a coming-of-age story that’s punctuated by music. I’ve also got a short story included in a book that’s out now called Crime Plus Music: Twenty Stories of Music Themed Noir, by Jim Fusilli. It’s very exciting.
How would you like Duane Allman to be remembered?
My father had an amazing ability to be emotionally expressive with his instrument. There was no barrier between what he was feeling and what he was playing. That was his real strength. He’ll always be known and credited for helping to bring slide guitar into the rock genre and for his emotionally powerful, improvisational influence. But he was a master of expressing in the moment. That’s the way he’ll be remembered.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.