This Week On KLSX – Randy Poe

Nothing prepared us for the opening notes of "Fillmore East".  With that wailing guitar…how could ANYBODY have the Statesboro Blues?

Oh, I was a fan previously.  From getting fucked up in Dave McCormick’s dorm room, listening to "Idlewild South" (hell, couldn’t they have named the OTHER airport "Kennedy"?)  And, after becoming addicted to "Fillmore East" I bought the debut, a true treasure, with not only the original five minute version of "Whipping Post", but "Trouble No More", "It’s Not My Cross To Bear" and the original "Dreams".  But it was "Fillmore East" that blew our minds.  That made the Allman Brothers the most popular band amongst the FM set, those that DIDN’T listen to Top Forty, who were musos, who BELIEVED!

The rest of the world caught up two years later, when Dickie wailed on "Ramblin’ Man".  But WE knew the Allman Brothers Band was the best act in the country LONG before.  Long before it was revealed it was DUANE ALLMAN who wrote and played that magical riff that makes Derek & the Dominos’ "Layla" so memorable.

Some say if you see the Allmans today, you get to see Duane reincarnated, with Derek Trucks.  And it’s a great facsimile, that act’s alive, but Derek is just walking on the path that Duane pioneered.  It was like Duane was a comet, coming out of nowhere to invade our cosmos, and then disappearing before we could really appreciate him.

I know this guy, Randy Poe.  He’s from Muscle Shoals, and he runs Mike & Jerry’s operation, you know, Lieber & Stoller.  The "Smokey Joe’s Cafe" boys.  And last year we were having dinner at Il Sole and Randy told me he was writing a book on Duane Allman, and started telling stories, like how Duane took his guitar to the BATHROOM!

Randy’s full of stories.  A couple of months back, he regaled us with the story of how he chased Willie Nelson down in Nova Scotia (or was it Prince Edward Island?) to pitch him a song.

Randy’s in the southern tradition.  The telling is as important as the tale.

And now Randy’s book, "Skydog: The Duane Allman Story", has finally been published.  And I’m gonna have him on my Sunday night KLSX/Free FM show to tell YOU some of these Duane Allman tales.

That’s from 9-11 PM at 97.1 on the FM dial here in Los Angeles.

Or, you can stream via the Website:

And call in with questions at (888) 520-9710.

Below please find two excerpts from "Skydog" to give you a taste.


With two studio albums under their belt, the Allman Brothers were about to fulfill one more of Duane’s dreams. In 1970 he had told disc jockey Ed Shane, "You know, we get kind of frustrated doing the  records, and I think, consequently, our next album will be . . . a live recording, to get some of that natural fire on it." The live recording that Duane had hoped for would eventually consist of performances from Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13. The band actually played three straight nights at the Fillmore, beginning on Thursday. Ads for the show read: "Bill Graham Presents in New York-Johnny Winter, Elvin Bishop Group, Extra Added Attraction: Allman Brothers." Extra added attraction indeed. No matter that Johnny Winter was billed as the headliner-by the final night, the Allman Brothers were closing the show.
Tom Dowd was back to produce the album, but this time he was flying by the seat of his pants. He hadn’t even planned to be in New York when the live album was being cut. "I was supposed to be in Europe," he told Hittin’ the Note’s Bill Ector. Dowd had been in Africa, working on the film Soul to Soul. From there he planned to vacation in Rome, but when his plane touched down, he discovered it was snowing. "I looked and I thought, ‘I don’t need Rome in the snow.’ " So Dowd caught the next plane to Paris, eventually arriving in New York at the crack of dawn on March 10.
After checking into a hotel near the Atlantic Records office, he slept all day. The following afternoon he called Jerry Wexler to let him know he was in town. "That’s great," said Wexler, "because the Allman Brothers are recording tonight at the Fillmore." With such short notice, Dowd had no time to speak to Duane or any of the other band members. He took a taxi down to the Fillmore East and hopped into the truck that housed Location Recorders’ mobile studio.
"The band didn’t even know I was back," said Dowd. "I’m sitting in the truck and prompting the engineers. So the band comes onstage and all of a sudden I hear horns, and I like to nearly wet my pants! I went out of that truck, I mean, I came tear-assing down. And when they came off, I grabbed them and said, ‘Get the fucking horns out of my life. They are out of tune, they don’t know the songs-whose stroke of genius was this?’ "
When the band finally calmed him down, they asked Dowd if they could keep one horn player and Thom Doucette on harmonica. He agreed, but the initial show was a lost cause. "The first show, half the tracks that I could have used were wasted because I had horns on guitar parts, and they were terrible. It was pretty grim," said Dowd. "So that night, in order to make a point, we went up to my studio with the tapes under my arms, and I played the whole concert back to them. They were sitting there and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ When they did the next night, I didn’t have to worry about the horns."
Although the eventual album would include tracks from both the 12th and 13th, Dowd felt the contributions by saxophonist Rudolph "Juicy" Carter-who had been featured on some of the second night’s performances-weren’t quite gelling with the band. By Saturday’s gig, Carter was sitting out. In fact, for a while on Saturday-thanks to someone phoning in a bomb threat-it looked as if everybody might be sitting out. But after the Fillmore had been searched, the show resumed. Much of what was recorded during the post-bomb-scare set on the night of the 13th became the material on At Fillmore East.
Technically, the Allman Brothers’ late show actually took place on the morning of March 14. By all accounts, the band didn’t hit the stage until sometime after 2:00 a.m. Recollections of the duration of that final set vary greatly, depending on who’s telling the story-but it’s safe to say that it went on for well over three hours. The final encore (which didn’t make it onto the original album) was "Drunken Hearted Boy," featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar and vocals, Steve Miller on piano, and Bobby Caldwell on percussion. At the end of the song, Duane said, "That’s all for tonight." But nobody wanted to go home. As the crowd continued to cheer for more, Duane-in semi-disbelief-told them, "Hey, listen. It’s six o’clock, y’all." When the cheers continued, he tried a different tactic: "Look here, we recorded all this. This is gonna be our third album, and thank you for your support. You’re all on it. We ain’t gonna send you no check, but thanks for your help." And with that, the Allman Brothers’ three-night stand at the Fillmore East was finally over.


After Duane had finished his two-concert tour with Derek and the Dominos, he met up with the rest of the Allman Brothers Band in Columbia, South Carolina on December 4th. The band opened for Johnny Winter And (the albino virtuoso’s oddly named group with fellow guitarist Rick Derringer) at the Carolina Coliseum, and then moved on the next day to the Music Factory in Greenville, North Carolina. Dates at the Fillmore East were scheduled for the 12th and 13th, so Duane headed on to New York for a radio interview to promote the shows.

On December 9th, Allman arrived at WABC-FM to chat with disc jockey Dave Herman. The general idea for the evening was to discuss the Fillmore concerts, talk a bit about the Allman Brothers and Derek and the Dominos, spin a few records, and take phone calls from the listeners. But the interviewer’s best-laid plans instantly flew out the window when Duane showed up late and out of it.

"I’m drunk, man," he told Herman. When Allman attributed his current state to a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, the interviewer calmly asked, "Black label or green?"  "Black label, of course, Allman responded indignantly. "I’m from Tennessee, man. My grandfather washed his feet in Jack Daniel’s."

For the next hour, Dave Herman had his hands full. Allman, who usually spoke slowly and articulately, was in overdrive. One has to suspect that much more than Jack Daniel’s was at play. Duane did manage to subtly plug the upcoming dates by bragging about Betts ("If you’ve never heard him play, come down to the Fillmore this weekend, man, and hear him. I’m the famous one, man. He’s the good player."). But there were other, more personal things on his mind.

In the most brutally honest statement he would ever make during any interview, Allman talked openly – perhaps much too openly – about his recently failed relationship with Donna, and about his daughter, Galadrielle. "I got rid of my old lady and my kid. I said, ‘No old ladies, no kids, man. Just guitars.’ 

"She’s a teenage queen," Duane continued. No doubt sensing that he was losing control of an interview that was quickly turning into a monologue, Herman interjected, "Who’s a teenage queen – your kid or your…?"

"My old lady," Duane responded before Herman could even finish asking the question.

"My kid is a kid. She’s mine. She’s part of me. You can see me in her. I look at her and say, ‘Hey, me. How you doin’?’

"Children are good, man, if you love ’em – if you’ve got time to do it. It’s not good if the old lady ain’t nowhere, man. And my old lady…she’s just, ‘Do you love me, son?’ ‘No I don’t love you. I just seen you. You come by the gig and asked me if I’d ball you, and I said, ‘Okay, yeah.’ And then ten months later, ‘I’m pregnant. What’ll I do? What’ll I do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know what to do. So she comes down and she gets a crib, see, she gets an apartment and she says, ‘Duane, here’s your home! Here’s your home!’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve been looking for home. This must be it!’ So I run on in the door, man, and right away I start getting pulled at and shoved at man. I don’t want none of that, man. I don’t want none of that. So I says, ‘Okay, here’s your bucks. Here’s your car. Here’s your trip. Hit the road.’ So, it’s just me and my old guitar." 

Listening to the interview decades later, it is still a spine-chilling experience. Had Allman been a superstar at the time, his cruel confessional most likely would have been career wrecking front-page news in the tabloids. But in December of 1970, as far as the mainstream media was concerned, Duane Allman was just another guitar player in a rock ‘n’ roll band.   

Despite everything, the conversation wasn’t short on levity. Duane was talking a mile a minute, explaining in an almost incoherent fashion about the formation of the Allman Brothers Band when Herman jumped in. "You do a two and a half hour interview in ten minutes," he told Allman. When the disc jockey added that he thought "people from the South are supposed to talk slow and mellow," Duane responded, "Oh, I am – but you get up here, you have to talk fast or somebody’ll talk in front of you."

When phone calls started pouring into the station, one listener spoke of seeing the Allman Brothers open for Blood, Sweat & Tears at the Fillmore East the previous year, and then asked Duane what he thought of the group. After a lengthy silence, Allman finally responded, "My mother told me when I was a child, ‘If you can’t – don’t.’"

Moments later, the interview was finally, mercifully, over. Through a haze of alcohol and whatever else was in his system, Duane Allman had once again found a way to – in the words of Paul Hornsby – "show his ass." This time, however, it wasn’t in the privacy of an Hour Glass recording session. It was on a radio show with thousands of listeners.
Perhaps Duane just got drunk and high that night for the hell of it. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time. Maybe all the Christmas decorations in Manhattan were a reminder that the anniversary of his father’s murder was fast approaching. On the other hand, the upcoming Fillmore dates could have played some small part in his having gotten completely shit-faced before going on the air. On the 12th and 13th, the Allman Brothers would be second on the bill behind Canned Heat. Remarkably, Duane’s old nemesis, Dallas Smith, had finally figured out how to make a blues-rock record. His production of Boogie with Canned Heat with its hit single, "On the Road Again," had turned Smith into a bona fide rock producer of no small renown. The irony wouldn’t have been lost on Duane that the musically superior Allman Brothers Band had to open for a Dallas Smith-produced act.

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