Remembering Duane Allman: Hear Allman Brothers Band Live At Swarthmore College In 1970

Duane Allman died tragically in a motorcycle accident on this date in 1971. He was just 24 years old. Even though he left this world far too early, Duane had already cemented his status as one of the greatest guitar players of all time as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band along with being a highly sought after session musician working most notably out of the storied FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals as well as on iconic albums like Derek And The Dominos’ 1970 LP Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

While The Allman Brothers Band had their breakout in 1971 with the live album At Fillmore East, arriving just months before Duane died, ABB released two studio albums — their 1969 self-titled debut and 1970s’ Idlewild South — ahead of Fillmore. The band toured heavily around the studio albums and on May 2, 1970, the original ABB lineup — Duane, keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman, bassist Berry Oakley, guitarist Dickey Betts and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe — came to Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which is the subject of this week’s Full Show Friday in remembrance of Duane.

David Dye of Philadelphia radio station WXPN is a Swarthmore graduate and was a student at the time of the concert. He shared some of his memories with Philly’s The Key:

The recording was done on 1/4-inch tape at WSRN, the college radio station, which was 300 yards away and connected to the stage by a wire. It was usually used to record public speakers, but they figured what the heck, let’s record the Allman Brothers too.

The tape itself is a thing of legend, it had disappeared for at least three decades. And when you listen to it, they’re so young, and so on. There are all those covers, like “Dimples,” and it just sounded so bluesy and cool.

The concert got off to a hot start with ABB’s staple cover of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” which features impeccable slide work from Duane and smooth but scorching vocals from Gregg. The band followed with another blues standard and ABB staple, Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” before getting into a raucous version of Gregg’s stellar song, “Dreams.”

More blues classics followed in Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man,” first recorded by Muddy, and the standard “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts of Town,” first recorded by Piedmont blues musician Casey Bill Weldon in 1936. Gregg’s “Every Hungry Woman” then prefaces a less heard ABB cover of Albert King’s “Oh Pretty Woman.”

The stellar instrumental “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” follows ahead of more covers in T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” and John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples.” A fiery “Whipping Post” would count as the penultimate song of the evening before the band explored “Mountain Jam.”

In honor of Duane Allman, listen to The Allman Brothers Band live at Swarthmore College in May 1970 below:

Setlist (via ABB.com)

Set(s): Statesboro Blues, Trouble No More, Dreams, Hoochie Coochie Man, I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town, Every Hungry Woman, Oh Pretty Woman, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Stormy Monday, Dimples, Whipping Post, Mountain Jam