My Top 5 Duane Allman Guitar Solos

Duane Allman has been one of my biggest influences since I started playing guitar. Back when I first put Live at the Fillmore East on, I became immediately obsessed with trying to learn how to play like this blues guitar giant.

His style and sound were very different to me than other popular blues rock guitarists such as Clapton, SRV, Hendrix and Page. He seemed to be more of a melodic player that took from horn players and singers just as much as he did from blues guitarists.

A little know fact I just learned was that Duane was a lefty but played a right handed guitar.  Could this have given him the extra strength to execute all those radical bends he used to play?  Case in point is the Stormy Monday solo.

His phrasing was so different then any other player I had ever encountered before, and the rhythm in his solos seemed to always feel fresh and exciting.  He also played an amazing slide guitar!  In my opinion, he was the innovator of electric slide guitar as we know it today.  Sure there were others that came before him, but he put his own stamp on it and took it to a level that had never been heard before.

Although he didn’t have much time on this earth to keep developing his craft, it is utterly amazing what he accomplished by the age of 24.  Jimi Hendrix had 3 more years on him and SRV passed at the age of 35 with an entire decade more time. I’m not saying anything bad about either guitarist. I’m just want to show you that Duane had very little time in the spotlight as a guitar hero so to speak.  We have all seen what his band mate from Derek and the Dominos (Eric Clapton) went on to accomplish.  We’ll never know what Duane would of went on to do, but maybe some of that is heard these days through what Derek Trucks is doing.

When the Fillmore album was recorded Duane had only been playing slide a couple of years.  This is unbelievable!  At those shows he wrote the book on Open E Tuning blues rock slide guitar.  Statesboro Blues, Trouble No More, One Way Out, and Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ were all played on that infamous album.  Those songs contain some of the best slide guitar work ever captured.  If you want to play slide guitar, then it is imperative that you learn these songs.

With that said here are my top 5 Duane Allman Solos in no particular order

  1. Statesboro Blues – Probably the most known slide guitar intro in history.  You can’t mention slide guitar without someone bringing up Statesboro Blues.  It is the quintessential slide guitar blues jam.  Snaky slides, impeccable tone and phrasing make this one of Duane’s best. A must know for the serious slider.
  2. Blue Sky – Totally different style on this one.  Using the major scale mostly, many fans of the Allman Bros can sing this entire solo note for note.  Isn’t that what a solo should strive for in a song?
  3. Stormy Monday – Radical bending, very unique phrasing, and a sense of melody that most guitar players would kill for.  Yes it’s that good and it’s very hard to play due to the feeling and timing issues in this amazing solo.
  4. One Way Out – Short but sweet solo at the end of the song after the call and response between him and Dickey Betts.  Most people can sing every note to this solo as well, but go ahead and try to play it.  It’s harder than it sounds due to the unique vocal phrasing.
  5. You Don’t Love Me – An amazing solo during the song and also at the middle when it’s just guitar.  He pulls out everything from BB King Licks to some Jimmy Page inspired speed runs, to some very nice country fried bends.  It’s one of my all time favorites!  Do you hear the tone he has on this?

Well those are my 5 favorite Duane Allman Solos.  They might not be yours, so list your top 5 below if you want to share your opinion with the world.

For more information on learning how to play slide guitar like Duane Allman check out my open e tuning slide guitar course.

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23 thoughts on “My Top 5 Duane Allman Guitar Solos”

  1. The fact fact that Duane started playing slide guitar on his 22nd birthday and died three weeks before his 25th birthday just blows me away every time I think about it… In less than three years, he managed to become what many people say is the greatest slide guitar player ever. If he had lived to this day, perhaps he would be the one to top all the Greatest Guitarist lists.

    I think that my favorite solos, in no specific order, are those you mentioned, plus Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, Done Somebody Wrong, Dreams and Whipping Post.

    • Yes it’s pretty amazing! I’ve been playing slide guitar for about 16 years and still have a hard time trying to get the feel he had. I remember when I had been playing for a few years. It was nothing very good I can tell you that!

  2. thanks John, you’re a great guy and have been more help to my playing than you’ll ever know…thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving! Kev

  3. by far one og the greats,without him layla would have been very empty sounding,.just listen to some of the live stuff without him,,,,,,Clapton needed Daune’s,,,,,,,,, touchand drive

  4. Hi John, I am so grateful for your site. I have been a Duane fanatic since I was 14 years old. I wrote Capricorn Records when I was a teenager and they sent me a batch of great Duane and ABB pictures. He was the Master. Here are some of my favorite moments of his:
    1. Dreams: The tones is so beautiful. He incorporates jazz, middle eastern and blues into one astonishing, melodic piece of beauty. I love how he switches back and forth between slide and finger style.
    2. Little Martha: I love this. It is a duet between Duane and Dickey Betts. Sheer beauty.
    3. Don’t Want You No More/It’s Not My Cross To Bear:This captures Duane’s energy and vision so well.
    4. Whipping Post: The live version. His playing veers from furious to sublime. This is joy made audible.
    5. Somebody Loan Me a Dime: This is a Boz Scaggs recording available either on the Duane Allman anthology or the Scaggs solo album. Duane builds a beautiful solo, creating tension and anticipation as he elevates toward the crescendo. It is a fantastic moment.

  5. There is a solo Duane did that I can only ape on guitar, at around 26:00 mins into Mountain Jam from Eat a Peach, ends around 30:00. It is exceptional in it’s beauty, delicacy, feel, and counter intuitive phasing. No one talks about it, but I’d be really surprised if anyone else could really play it like he did.

  6. Referring to the Mountain Jam solo, it is also one of my favorites of Duane.
    I love B. Oakley’s complimentory bass lines during the solo. Another one of favorites is the solo on: “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Every time he plays the solo on his live recordings it is different; total improv with some established themes.

  7. It’s really hard to pick out the top 5 solos that Duane performed/recorded – every one of them was just so damned good. No matter what he played, he was one of those players that could be identified by just one note. What always strikes me is the many different “styles” that characterize Duane’s slide work – you definitely do NOT hear the same licks recycled over and over again. I’m always blown away by Duane’s work with Eric Clapton on the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs Album. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out and Key to the Highway are among my favorites. Duane’s fills and background licks on Nobody Knows You are just so tasteful, and Key to the Highway is a short roadmap to silde guitar Mecca. I don’t mean to take anything away from Duane’s work with the ABB, but the ABB as an ensemble was so good that you almost came to expect it. But when I hear his playing with other bands and guitarists, and how Duane fit right in without a seam – it really is astounding.

  8. John,

    Thanks fo all you help and support with prvious dvds.

    Whoever mentioned “Loan Me a Dime” was right on it. Interesting to hear Duane blast from a Fender. Other than the righteous songs previously mentioned, I enjoy Duanes cover stuff with John Hammond on Southern Fried. Hammond mentioned that when they recorded “Shake fo Me” that at the end of the song Duane wailed on for another 20 minutes but it could not fit the album. Not bad for someone in his first 18 months of slide. Further, I believe that Duane is such a giant on slide that it is somewhat easy to overlook his regular non-slide playing of which it is top notch. When St. Peter calls me, if I am fortunate to go heavenward as I enter the pearly gates, I am sure I will hear Duane’s spiritual gospel finale at the end of “Mountain Jam.” Let’s not forget that when Duane passed his quality of work was still developing and improving…I am sure to the highlands of a funky jazz Mt. Olympus.

  9. Being inspired by Duane Allman in any way possible is really nice to know. There are many guitar players or music fans who are touched by their idols and share the inspiration to others, like this post. Being in the guitar picks line of business, it makes us glad to be part of an industry that can make a difference to many.

  10. yo coincido con vos aca en argentina los fanaticos del blues estamos de acuerdo con tu lista. en cuanto a duene el fue el que me inspiro a agarrar una guitarra a mis 15 años cuando por primera vez escuche el tema little marta. es una lastima q se halla hido con tan solo 24 años no hay derecho pero la vida es aveces asi de injusta un muchacho con unas ganas de vivir imensa. duane tu legado va a seguir existiendo y has dejado una huella imposible de borrar. mis respetos para una gran persona y un gran guitarrista. diego 16 años

  11. I agree with the 5 solos selected….however, one of hid greatest solos was on the Layla album….on Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad…..take a listen and you will understand…just my opinion

  12. John,

    You sir are a ba mf my friend. Love your open E slide work. Duane is my hero as well but you have to take your hat off to jesse ed davis. Without him there would be no duane slides. He is Duanes inspiration to Statesboro. If you haven’t heard his solo work i must insist on it. He plays all the piano licks with the exception of leon russell on a few plus the smoothest phrasing i have ever heard. Look for a song called she’s a pain.

    Dig It,

    Chris

  13. I was fortunate enough to have seen Duane in possibly his greatest performance (and entire ABB)- June 26, 1971 @ Fillmore East late show (the show that ended at 7AM). I still remember that gorgeous tobacco sunburst Les Paul of his that night! I saw Hendrix before that night and have been to literally hundreds of concerts since and to this day has there ever been a show of such musical depth and soul I have ever seen. Having said that my 5 favorite Duane solos have to be: Dreams, Blue Sky, Reed (live), Mountain Jam and Stormy Monday. I have many tapes of live shows from the Duane era that I got from tape traders and as someone posted here and correctly, every solo is different on every song by Duane as well as by Dickey. Duane’s playing on the “Layla” album makes it. No way is that record a legendary recording without Duane on it with all due respect to Eric Clapton, who happens to be a personal favorite of mine too.

  14. John,
    I have been amazed by Duane Allman since I was a teenager. The first time I listened to Fillmore East I was entranced.
    I am also a fan of Derek Trucks. I do believe that he is in some small way continuing the tradition of great slide guitar being influenced by the Blues first then later Jazz and Middle Eastern music. A very humble man who has his own very unique and beautiful style and phrasing on slide. If this was a perfect world, which we all know it is not, Duane and Derek would have met and be playing together today bringing us music we can only dream about.

  15. I would love to know how to play the final Duane solo in Load Me A Dime.. his playing was so intense!! Skydog forever!

  16. To me, Duane’s once in a lifetime solos (I think even Danny Gatton could not have reproduced them!) are:
    Road of love (a clear message that he was his own man)
    Loan me a dime (the Mozaresque progression, of course)
    Dreams (the opening gate for the skydog solos to come until his death)
    Why does love got to be so sad- On the Layla album (the sensuality)
    In memory of Elizabeth Reed- live (the melody’s increasing flow his melodic band direction)

  17. I too have been listening to Duane since 1972. I recently came back to his solos when I began working them out again for myself and what I find astounding is the feel and intonation of each bend as though it’s the last note ever to be heard. He is so tenacious in his articulation that it leaves me totally in awe of his capacity as a young man to produce this level of music. Betts of course is also extraordinary but not at the same level. Derek comes close but again it’s a very different era and duane was really on his own with no one else to take from.
    Jimi was also on his own as was Dylan in another genre. There is something about these guys which leaves me feeling in such deep devotion.

  18. Duane’s solo on It’s not my cross to bear, to me is so powerful…… it is not long enough….. and at times I can feel that guitar actually weeping with emotion.
    It has made me tear up many times just because of the irony of it all.

    Soooooooo powerful.

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