Two of the most recognizable guitar riffs ever recorded were on the Eagles' “Hotel California” and Derek and The Dominoes' “Layla.”
Both are rock anthems that all music fans know and love. What you may not know is that both of those were performed by guitar virtuosos from Central Florida. Don Felder, who wrote those classic licks for the Eagles, went to high school in Gainesville and Duane Allman attended Seabreeze in Daytona Beach.
And, no, although Derek and The Dominoes was an Eric Clapton led group, he did not play those haunting notes that bring Layla to a boil. That was our guy Duane.
He and his brother, Gregg, were both born in Tennessee, but were moved to Daytona Beach early on. Gregg graduated Seabreeze, but Duane left a bit early. From age 10 it was clear Duane and a guitar were meant to be.
Locally they began to play gigs under various names and eventually took their Allman Brothers Band to Macon, Ga., where they recorded some of their best music.
Just out of his teens, Duane was so talented that he was recruited by the producers at Muscle Shoals in Alabama. Pretty quickly he became the lead session guitarist among a group of much older musicians. He would play on recordings for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett and his soaring guitar solo on Pickett's version of the Beatles song "Hey Jude" is still regarded as one of the best ever.
Here I will ask you to pause in reading this column and go to YouTube to listen to that song. Duane comes in near the end and tears it up.
A couple years later The Allman brothers Band was in Miami to perform when they were invited to meet with Clapton and his group. Eric was there to record his Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, an album dedicated to the love of his life, Patti, who was then the wife of Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Eric was blown away by Duane's bluesy slide guitar style and was happy to take the back seat on Layla as Duane killed it. Allman was invited on the tour and did play a few dates with Derek and The Dominoes that year.
Duane Allman is still hailed as one of the top blues guitar players in history. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number two to Jimi Hendrix as the greatest of all time. This for a man who's entire career spanned just over three years. Duane was killed in 1971 on his motorcycle at age 24.
He and the Allman Brothers Band had found success with two best selling albums and after his death they released Eat A Peach, which would be my favorite.
Now I will ask you to go to YouTube once more to listen to One Way Out. That track will tell you all you need to know about the Allman Brothers. The band is credited with inventing southern rock and it was their blend of San Francisco psychedelia and country that made them so unique. It had never been done before.
Duane has never been forgotten and is still recognized as the greatest slide guitarist of all time by artists like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. After you listen to Hey Jude, Layla and One Way Out, I'll bet you will agree.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to email@example.com or call (386) 441-7793.