The Allman Brothers Band released their first live album, At Fillmore East on this day in 1971. That’s 50 years ago. The album consisted of extended versions of their songs Whipping Post and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed. It’s frequently viewed as one of the best live albums of all time.
The album was their third release ever and their first live album. It was recorded in New York City over the course of three nights. The live album is what shot the Allman Brothers into fame. It was also the band’s first album to go platinum.
The album has been selected for preservation by the library of congress as it’s been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.” It’s also been put on multiple “best albums of all time” lists and is deemed incredibly important to southern rock history.
After its release, critic George Kimball, who wrote for the Rolling Stone, raved about the album. He described the band as “the best damn rock and roll band this country has produced in the past five years.”
The Allman Brothers Went All Out for The Live Performances Despite Bomb Scares
The live shows on the album are concerned an incredibly important piece of rock history themselves. The band lit up the stage, ending the show and the album with a 23-minute long version of Whipping Post. Months after recording for the album, they played at the iconic venue one more time as it was shutting down for good.
In fact, the first night, The Allman Brothers weren’t even the headliner. Johnny Winter and Elvin Bishop Group were supposed to headline, but things changed that night when the crowd started walking out once the headliners took the stage.
The band played through the live nights despite multiple bomb scares. Band member Butch Trucks told The Rolling Stone all about it.
“There were several [bomb scares] right around the same time,” he said. “I do remember one at the Fillmore the weekend we were recording. Apparently, they did find something. I never found out whether it was a bomb or not; they just said that they found something in one of the balconies.”
Despite that, they played on. However, their record company hated it. They didn’t want them to put it out at all. The band had to fight hard to get the album released, and by the time it was released, they thought it would be a flop. However, it turned out to be one of the most influential albums of its time.
Trucks told The Rolling Stone that it’s an incredibly genuine album.
“I think Fillmore East was the last truly honest, from-the-soul record that we ever did,” he said. “There’s absolutely nothing in there but us playing music.”