In the 1960s, it was rather easy to observe now-established performers breaking into the music scene. You could have stepped into any Greenwich pub and heard Joan Baez perform, or if you preferred the sun, the West Coast’s gleaming beaches welcomed you to see the Byrds live. If you drove down to the South, things didn’t alter much, at least musically, as rock music was as popular as it had been along the coasts. Billy Gibbons, for example, was trying his hardest to get into the scene with ZZ Top, and while it was difficult at first, they eventually landed gigs and began opening for other future rock icons. One of the bands that the youthful Gibbons and Co. opened for was The Allman Brothers. Indeed, the leader later told Rolling Stone how fortunate he felt to have seen Duane and Gregg Allman mesmerize the audience with their music so early in the brothers’ careers.
So, when Rolling Stone included the Allmans in their list of the 100 Greatest Artists in 2010, putting them at 53, Billy was tasked with writing an honorable induction for his fellow Southerners. While he was at it, the leader also revealed which song captivated him and inspired him to pursue a career in music. The rocker began his remarks by recalling pleasantly seeing the brothers and the band enter the stage while ZZ Top supported them. As he stood by the side of the stage, watching Duane jam with Dickey Betts and enthralling the audience, Gibbons thought he was witnessing music history unfold in front of his eyes.
Billy then stated that he’d been an avid admirer since the minute the band’s name was mentioned to him. However, one song in particular blew Gibbons away: ‘Whipping Post.’ The rocker emphasized that the extended version of the song immediately became his ‘all-time end-all’. The vocalist said of the Allman Brothers Band: “I first heard about them when they were fleeing Macon, Georgia.” They had performed in Austin and generated quite a stir. In those days, word traveled rapidly. We were on the road with these guys the next thing we know, opening up for them and Quicksilver Messenger Service and seeing music history. After our set, we’d hang out by the stage and listen to Duane and Dickey Betts play guitar together. It seemed as though they were weaving a lovely piece of cloth. Dickey was a standout in his own right. However, no one in that band — Duane, Dickey, Jaimoe Johanson, or Butch Trucks — stood out at first.
There are a few moments on ‘At Fillmore East’ that defy explanation, as the Allmans push the music to new heights. For me, the extended version of ‘Whipping Post’ is the be-all and end-all. The Allmans were a wonderful Southern rock band, but that was all they were. They defined the greatest of the American South’s music at the time. They were the best of us all.” While the Allman Brothers played after them, Gibbons felt as if he was witnessing music history unfolding in front of him. They were more than just a regular Southern rock band to Billy; they were icons who made timeless music and put on spectacular shows.