Talkin' Blues with Jaimoe
AAJ: The Allman Brothers opened for B.B. King and Buddy Guy for four nights at the Fillmore West in January of 1970. Could you share something about that?
Jaimoe: Oh boy, oh boy. When I was talking about those guys like Little Richard, early Johnny Winter, and Jerry Lee Lewiswell Buddy Guy was another guy like that. When the gig was all over they had a jam session, and that night Buddy pulled one of those deals.
So after that show, the talk among the musicians, and if you ask anyone from the Allman Brothers Band about that, this is what you'll get. Buddy got to soloing and he tried to play everything he could think of, and dancing, the whole bit. And when someone else would be soloing, right in the middle of it, every chance he got Buddy would be jumping in. And B.B. King got a chair, and pulled it up after one of those solos, and said, "Hey Buddy, you wanna sit down and talk about it." That went all over the damn building, everybody heard that. So if you ask the musicians who were there, that's probably what you'll hear, B.B. tellin' Buddy to come sit down [Laughing].
AAJ: Then there's the story of Eric Clapton coming to see you guys with Tom Dowd in Miami, when Duane looked down and saw him and stopped playing. I wondered, how well do you remember that concert, and when did you first discover Eric was sitting in the front row?
Jaimoe: I don't think he was sitting in the front row, I remember him standing over to the side, and it was in the afternoon, about 3 o'clock or so. Tom told Eric that Duane was playing at this gig, and I remember Tom later saying that Eric said something like, "You mean the chap, the slide player from Rick Hall's studio?"
So yeah, Clapton wanted to immediately go down and hear him play. Something that freaked Eric out, and I saw the same thing with Sonny Rollins and ColtraneEric Clapton wanted to know how Duane Allman could be such a great guitarist, and he had never heard of him. You know, where did this guy come from, how could he be all that, playin' all the guitar he was playin'?
I'll tell you something really interesting Alan, what will freak anybody out, is when they hear somebody doing something interesting with a very different approach from what they use, it makes them wonder. I've sat down and studied stuff and come to the conclusion it's all kind of the same, but it has to do with the approach, that's the difference and that's all there is to it. When I tried to figure out how Tony Williams played a certain figure he played on a Miles Davis record when he was only a 17 year-old, I was thinking, "What the hell was he playing?"
So I sat down and I figured it out, playing it every which way, from this hand to that hand, every possible way I could think of to play it, but I still wasn't satisfied with what I was getting. You can break something down, but you can't cop the personality. That's the thing; you can't capture someone's personality. That's the secret to the whole thing, the personality.
AAJ: I also wanted to ask you about the atmosphere during Eric Clapton's 2009 appearances with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon, especially on the second night, that was electrifying.
Jaimoe: You know there are very few musicians, unless they've played together before, who just come out and relax and fall in and play. After the first night, he played and he left. The second night, he was going to play, and then come out and play again. What happened was, he just came out and played, without planning in advance, no this tune and that tune, instead he just came out and played. That's what the difference was.
For myself, I really liked Eric most when he was in Cream. But what I found out at the Beacon is that the motherfucker can play, he can take care of himself.
AAJ: Last question, there was a movie some years back called, Almost Famous (DreamWorks, 2000) which was supposed to have been inspired in part by the Allman Brothers. Did you see it, and if so did it reflect what your life on the road was like back in the day?
Jaimoe: Some people thought it was about Lynyrd Skynyrd, but there was a band in Warner Robbins, Georgia called Stillwater, and I thought the band they portrayed in that movie was more like a Stillwater band than anybody.
I remember when it came out, somebody said, "Man you wanna go watch the story of your life, go watch this movie." Well I saw the movie and I said, "The story of whose life?" If it were the Allman Brothers story, it would have to be put through a very, very high tech health department before it could be released [laughing]!
Twiggs Lyndon, the road manager mentioned by Jaimoe, allegedly stabbed a club owner three times with a knife and was arrested for murder on April 30. 1970. His defense lawyers pleaded temporary insanity because of the stress of living on the road with the band and he was acquitted by the jury.