Music

The 20 Greatest Allman Brothers Band Songs: Critic’s Picks

Maybe more than any of their peers, The Allman Brothers Band were a group defined by eras, personalities and tragedies. Between the outfit’s 1969 self-titled debut and their last official studio album, 2003’s Hittin’ the Note, they released 12 studio albums and six officially released live albums, including the career-defining live set At Fillmore East in 1971, and countless bootlegged and band-sanctioned collections of their legendary shows, which even until the end, routinely lasted more than three hours.

But tragedies and personality clashes defined the band’s output over the years, beginning with founding member and lead guitarist Duane Allman’s sudden death in a motorcycle accident in 1971, and the subsequent death of original bassist Berry Oakley in an eerily similar situation a year later. Following Duane’s death, guitarist Dickey Betts took on a larger role in the band’s direction, producing a notable shift away from their bluesier beginnings and towards a more major-keyed, southern rock aesthetic that produced songs like “Ramblin’ Man,” the group’s only top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100, while Warren Haynes’ introduction in the 1980s added another strong songwriter to the mix.

Over the years, Gregg Allman, the gritty, soulful heart of the band that bore his name, remained its principal figure and its most influential songwriter, and with his death in 2017 at the age of 69, the band finally reached the end of its line. But the band’s spirit continued to live on in various forms, with Haynes’ Gov’t Mule, Derek Trucks’ Tedeschi Trucks Band and the Allman Betts Band — led by Devon Allman and Duane Betts, son of Gregg and Dickey, respectively — carrying the legacy forward. 

Now, with the death of Betts on April 18, 2024, at the age of 80, Billboard looks back at the 20 greatest Allman Brothers songs in roughly chronological order.

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