The Allman Brothers Band released most of their big hits over the course of less than a decade, but in that short amount of time, they made a permanent mark on the landscape of '70s rock music. Founded in Macon, Georgia, the band -- originally comprised of Dickey Betts, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Jaimoe Johanson, Berry Oakley, and Butch Trucks -- worked up the ranks to become a strong force in music. The Allman Brothers Band journey was also one marked by tragedy, with the death of founder Duane Allman in a motorcycle crash so early in their career in 1971. The band then lost their original bassist Berry Oakley in another motorcycle crash the next year. However, the band withstood these tragedies, becoming one of the best bands of their time period.
The group released a variety of songs that range from jazz to country to southern rock, and many of their songs feature a breezy, feel-good feeling. It's hard to rifle through their catalog and simply choose a few songs that fit the bill, but here are our picks for the 7 Best Allman Brothers Band songs.
7. "Blue Sky"
After the death of Duane Allman, The Allman Brothers Band released their Eat A Peach album, which they dedicated to their late band member. This album featured many of their most recognizable songs, including the feel-good "Blue Sky." The song was written by the band's guitarist Dickey Betts about his then-girlfriend, Sandy "Bluesky" Wabegijig. The tune was also the last one Duane Allman recorded with the group prior to his death. Peppy electric guitar paired with acoustic guitar is featured throughout the song as Betts sings about his love interest being his "blue sky" and his "sunny day." Betts only sings through about one minute of the tune, and the rest of the song features a long, melodic guitar solo with exceptional guitar work.
Another single released from Eat A Peach was "Melissa," which was written by Gregg Allman in 1967, a couple of years before the group came together. According to Allman, it was the first song he wrote that he felt was good enough to record. He was originally writing the song with the name "Delilah," but after seeing an energetic young girl named Melissa at the grocery story, he changed it. Gregg's brother Duane Allman wasn't completely sold on the song at first, and reportedly told Gregg, "It's pretty good--for a love song. It ain't rock and roll that makes me move my a--." Duane later went on to consider "Melissa" as one of Gregg's best songs. Unfortunately, Duane passed away before the song was recorded. Two demo versions of the song still exist -- one by the band The 31st of February, which featured future Allman Brothers Band member Butch Trucks.
The Allman Brothers Band released "Jessica" in 1973 following their hugely successful single, "Ramblin' Man." The all-instrumental tune features an energetic electric guitar melody along with acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment. It was written by Dickey Betts and served as a tribute to Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. The tune was also inspired by Betts' infant daughter, Jessica Betts, and the guitarist set out to encapsulate his daughter's energy with the track. "Jessica" was released from their Brothers and Sisters album and was recorded after the death of Duane Allen and Berry Oakley and the subsequent addition of keyboardist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams. The song has often been considered the one that showcases the band's evolution in sound after the death of Allman and Oakley.
4. "Statesboro Blues"
The Allman Brothers Band struggled a bit to find commercial success with the release of their self-titled debut album and their sophomore album, Idlewild South, but that all changed when they released their live album, At Fillmore East. The album was recorded at the famed Fillmore East music venue in New York City over three nights in 1971. The double album featured tracks such as "Hot 'Lanta," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," and "You Don't Love Me," but a standout on the album is their version of the Blind Willie McTell song, "Statesboro Blues." This song, originally in the Piedmont blues style, was modernized by Taj Mahal in 1968 and then later by The Allman Brothers Band. At Fillmore East became the band's breakout hit album, and is considered one of the best live albums of all time.
3. "Whipping Post"
Another song that famously graced The Allman Brothers Band's At Fillmore East album was "Whipping Post." The song, which originally appeared on their self-titled first album, was written by Gregg Allman soon after he joined the band. Allman came to the band with a batch of songs he'd written, and when only "Dreams" and "It's Not My Cross to Bear," made the cut, he set out to write more. That's when "Whipping Post" was born. The song was inspired by Allman's ups and downs in the music industry, and the inspiration came so quickly to him that he had to write the song on an ironing board cover just to get it down. "Whipping Post" didn't receive much attention when it was released on their debut album, but the song got a new life when the band put the 23-minute, live version on At Fillmore East. Despite the song's length, it received much airplay and landed on both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list and Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.
2. "Midnight Rider"
The Allman Brothers Band's second album, Idlewild South, did better than their debut, but it still didn't land them in superstar territory. However, the album includes tunes that went on to become some of the band's essential tracks, such as "Midnight Rider." Written by Gregg Allman and roadie Robert Kim Payne, "Midnight Rider" has become one of the band's most memorable songs and has lived on through cover versions. Gregg Allman released his solo version in 1973, which became a Top 20 song in the US and Canada. The song was also recorded by Jamaican singer Paul Davidson, Willie Nelson, and a bluegrass version of the tune is featured on Alison Krauss & Union Station's Two Highways album. Eric Church also included a live performance of his rendition of the song on his 61 Days In Church Volume 4 project.
1. "Ramblin' Man"
One of The Allman Brothers Band's biggest hit and one of their most memorable songs is "Ramblin' Man" from their Brothers And Sisters album. The song, which was written and sung by Dickey Betts, was inspired by Hank Williams' classic tune of the same name. "Ramblin' Man" could easily be confused for a country song, which the group was initially hesitant about, but they decided to put it on the album. The song was the band's only Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, landing at No. 2.
While many of these hits are from their early albums, the band went on to release many more projects, including Win, Lose or Draw, Brothers of the Road, Seven Turns, One Way Out, and more. Honorable mention songs include "Black Hearted Woman," "Every Hungry Woman," "Revival," "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," "Little Martha," "'Just Ain't Easy," "Straight From The Heart," "Good Clean Fun," "No One To Run With," "Back Where It All Begins," and "Soulshine." Other cover song the band recorded include "Stormy Monday," "Trouble No More," and "Mountain Jam."