The Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre: Preview 2004
The struggles to that end took their toll on the bandmembers, particularly Gregg. Receding into the background as Dicky's star ascended, carrying the Allman name wasn't enough to give the keyboardist/vocalist/composer enough direction even though he worked regularly on his own live and in the studio. While fighting the demons of alcohol and drugs to a draw, Gregg wandered into an absurd liaison with Cher, all the while trying to maintain his physical health and mental equilibrium. Not surprisingly, these factors contributed to the Allmans studio work( Win Lose or Draw )turning as piecemeal as their live shows had turned erratic and, in the wake of a brutally ugly trial in which Gregg was cornered into testifying against one of the group's own personnel in order to save himself, The Allman Brothers Band dissolved in the midst of threats to never work together again.
In retrospect, then, it seems all the more remarkable the group built itself back together again and it's a testament to the power of music and the fraternal bonds of musicians it happened. But it took some fifteen years for the reconstruction of this southern band to be complete and it was a fitful process beginning in 1979 when Gregg, the rhythm section and members of Betts' own band Great Southern adopted the Allman name and recorded Enlightened Rogues (a phrase coined by Duane). Less than stellar material and a certain lack of chemistry plagued the recording itself, even though Tom Dowd, producer of their best early albums, was in the production booth. When legal issues effectively dissolved Capricorn Records, a label effectively built on ABB's success, the band moved to the Arista label where the valiant effort the group was displaying in concert was lost in unsympathetic production on two albums, the second of which found the sextet missing Jaimoe, one of the instrumental lynchpins of the band from its inception..
The Eighties then saw little of the Allman Brothers, but when in one of the few kind turns done the group by their label, the box set Dreams was released, the band regrouped, again including members of Dickey's current group, namely guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody. Two fine studio efforts for Sony ( Seven Turns and Shades of Two Worlds ) raised the band's cache and their profile, so that regular touring, including spring runs at the Beacon in New York and occasional stops in Boston's Orpheum and Chicago's Wiltern, plus regular summer jaunts brought out fans who were (re)discovering the Allman Brothers. The jamband scene was in its earliest stages and more importantly, the commercial breakthrough of the Grateful Dead helped ABB bask in their glow, but the important factor was that the band had its bearings again, if not all its spirit of adventure.
That's apparent on the live Evening with... albums at the time where the septet, now including percussionist Marc Quinones, does yeoman work to climb the heights of the original group, using both old and new material. Yet the relationship between the guitarists left Haynes only as Betts's prot'g', even as the entire group's star ascended with a new audience as they headlined the 1994 lineup of the HORDE tour. All of which constituted important steps for the group nonetheless, because the sound they developed at this stage hearkened back to the raw bluesy attack of the group's earliest recordings. Nevertheless, with Woody as kindred spirit, Warren left to develop the side project known as Gov'tMule(perhaps in part for the purpose of more open-ended improvisation); elevating tension between the band and their current label was only mirrored in the revival of Capricorn for reissuing of much of the group's early recordings and when Mule opted to work for the Phil Walden label, their leaders were asked to leave the Allman Brothers.
By this time, recurring instances of Betts' self-destructive behavior kept him from some concert appearances and gave birth to some internal strife that was muffled by the first injection of fresh new blood into the band in the person of bassist extraordinaire Oteil Burbridge. Last of Bruce Hampton's Aquarium Rescue Unit, his fluid playing brought a distinct jazz feel to the music. Jack Pearson who had written and played with Gregg in his own band was tapped to take the second guitar spot, during which time relations with Sony/Epic deteriorated further (as did, in hindsight, Dickey's relationship with the rest of the group), resulting in just one more studio project, Where It All Begins , like its two predecessors, produced by old friend Tom Dowd from a soundstage set to capture the live feel of the band at its best. The enlistment of the precocious Derek Trucks, Butch's nephew, as lead and slide guitarist in place of Pearson, was the second crucial personnel move to happen, as he consolidated the jazz influence of Burbridge and added the unique tonalities of his own eclectic tastes, including Indian music