Duane Allman (November 20, 1946 – October 29, 1971) died in a motorcycle accident at just 24 years of age, yet despite leaving us before his time, is generally regarded as one of the best guitar players of all time.
In 2003, he was ranked second to Jimi Hendrix in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time, with a subsequent Rolling Stone listing compiled by a different panel ranking him in ninth place in 2011.
Until recently though, Allman's guitars were noticeably absent from our listing of The 100 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction. Last month his 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG fetched US$591,000 to become one of the 20 most valuable guitars of all time, and a few days later, his 1957 Goldtop Gibson Les Paul Guitar fetched $1.25 million.
The 1957 Goldtop Gibson Les Paul was Allman's main guitar during the first two years of the Allman Brothers Band, and is the guitar which Allman used alongside Eric Clapton in recording Layla. Allman also used the guitar throughout the recording sessions with Derek and the Dominos in August 1970 for the studio album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970).
The Goldtop was used on the Allman Brothers self-titled debut album released in 1969, as well as Idlewild South released in 1970. The albums featured the original versions of "Whipping Post," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Midnight Rider," "Revival" and other classics. The guitar can clearly be seen in the "Loan Me A Dime" studio sessions.
The guitar has been on display at the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House in Macon, Georgia, and has also been played by Billy Gibbons, Kirk Hamlet, Charlie Starr, Vince Gill, Derek Trucks and many more.
Just a few weeks after the "Layla" sessions, Allman traded the guitar for a cherry sunburst. On September 16, 1970, the Allmans played a show in Duane and Gregg Allman's hometown of Daytona, Florida. Duane, fresh off recording "Layla" was, as usual, playing this '57 Goldtop. The opening band was a local group called the Stone Balloon, whose guitarist, Rick Stine, was playing a 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul, which Duane was fond of.
While making "Layla", Allman had fallen in love with Clapton's cherry sunburst Les Paul. Wanting one of his own, Allman offered to swap guitars with Stine. When Stine hesitated, Allman upped the stakes, throwing in $200 and one of his regular Marshall 50 heads. Stine agreed and the deal was finalized. The Cherry Sunburst was recently sold for $591,000 and is also included in our listing of The 100 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction.
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