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  • January 4th, 2019

    The Long Strange Trip of the Midnight Rider: The Bond Between the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band

    Words by: Olivia Viana

    The road of the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band goes back to 1969, when they met for the first time in Atlanta. Before we welcome SoulShine: An Allman Brothers Experience on Wednesday, January 9, take a look down the road that brought these two bands together.

    “I love the Dead. As far as Jerry Garcia, Jerry Garcia could walk on water. He could do anything any man could ever do. He’s a prince.”
    –Duane Allman


    The 1970s Beginnings

    After they first met at the end of the 60s, the bands joined each other onstage frequently, with some of their most memorable jams taking place completely impromptu. In 1973, they shared the limelight of the what has become known as the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen for an unexpected collaboration, including the Allman Brothers’ “Mountain Jam.” Alongside The Band, the groups were creating the guide to the ultimate jamband collaboration right in front of a mass audience.

    Along with joined performances at the Fillmore East in 1970 and 1971, the bands had many opportunities to enjoy and enrich each other’s music throughout the rest of the decade. While the Allman brothers were originally opening for the Grateful Dead, they were soon headlining shows alongside them at RFK Stadium in 1973. During these formative years of the bands’ relationship, Duane Allman expressed his admiration for the Grateful Dead, of whom he said, “I love the Dead. As far as Jerry Garcia, Jerry Garcia could walk on water. He could do anything a man could ever do. He’s a prince.” Understandably so, their mutual bond was a strong one from the beginning, and the bands built a foundation that would revive itself in more recent years.

    The 2000s Revival & Beyond

    With a new generation of the Allman Brothers Band emerging, there were plenty of opportunities for new musical experiences to be had in the group, and oftentimes alongside members of the Grateful Dead. During an Allman Brothers’ 40th Anniversary performance at the Beacon Theatre in 2009, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh joined them for reimagined jams of classic favorites, including the Dead’s “Sugaree.”

    The longstanding bond between the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers continues to grow with their newer friends and members, who carry on the torch each time they get together and jam. The recent collaboration between Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and Phil Lesh at LOCKN’ proves that the music of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers is just as vibrant today as it was back in the 70s.

    Beyond the stage and inside the studio, Gregg Allman recorded his own version of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River”on his last solo album, Southern Blood, released posthumously in 2017. This beautiful tribute captures the love that he had for his friends’ music, proving that the two bands will always be a part of each other’s story.

    Over the years the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers have shared a long and winding road that has enriched their music. Their legacies continue to grow and develop to this day, and there’s no telling where their musical bond will take them next.