How Duane Allman ‘Ignited’ Eric Clapton
Late Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks recalled the moment Duane Allman added five notes to Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos song “Layla” during a late-night studio session and “ignited” the era of Clapton’s career that saw him trying to evade his star status.
The moment took place at Criteria Studios in Miami in September 1970, as the late Trucks once told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“Eric and the boys were basically hanging around [the studio], really messed up,” Trucks said. “And Tom [Dowd, producer] knew he had some music, but he didn’t have anybody playing. We happened to be in town, playing in Miami Beach, and Tom grabbed Eric and the guys and said, ‘I got some people I want you to hear.’ So we walked out on stage, and here, sitting on the front row, is Tom Down and Eric Clapton. That’s the one time I think I remember Duane being nervous!”
He recalled that “immediately there was a spark” between Allman and Clapton, which resulted in some of the entourage heading back to the studio and “jammed all night.”
“We listened to some of the tapes from the tracks that they had done," Trucks said. "And they were nice, but there was just nothing … no fire. I remember they had the track for ‘Layla’ – Duane came in and added five notes to that, and set fire to the whole thing. He was ball of fire and Eric was just ready to ignite. Duane ignited him, and I really don’t think people understand how important a role Duane played. What most people consider the best rock ’n’ roll record ever made would not have been anywhere near what it was.”
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