On this date, Bill Graham assembled a stellar roster of bands to participate in the filming of a television special called Welcome To The Fillmore East for broadcast on educational channels. Short sets were filmed by the Byrds, the Elvin Bishop Group, Sha-Na-Na, Van Morrison, and the Allman Brothers Band, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East staff at work.
The Allman Brothers performance is nothing short of spectacular and features the original lineup that included Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. Recorded six months prior to the legendary Live At Fillmore East double album set, this performance captures the Allman Brothers when they were a relatively new band, full of youthful passion and performing what would become classic original material when it was fresh and new.
Following Bill Graham’s introduction, they kick things off with a tight performance of “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” which features the band’s friend, Tom Doucette, blowing harp over the group’s trademark sound. Gregg’s vocal is barely audible, but it’s obvious the group is full of fire. “Dreams,” which follows, slows things down a bit and the group establishes a relaxed groove that showcases their trademark sound, blending elements that would eventually come to define “Southern Rock.”
They hit their stride on the next number, Dickey Betts’ “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” Here, the dual guitar attack of Allman and Betts is astounding. The two guitarists intertwine and synchronize in a manner nothing short of telepathic, creating a melting pot seasoned with elements of jazz, rock, country, and blues into a style utterly their own. The set ends with a ferocious take of “Whipping Post” that features outstanding melodic bass playing from Berry Oakley, with both Duane Allman and Dickey Betts soaring over the propulsive rhythm section. Shorter than the expansive versions that would develop in coming months, this is all the more fascinating for it, as they compress an incredible amount of energy into the time allotted.
Time constrictions and vocal microphone malfunctions aside, this is still a fascinating performance. This original lineup of the band was certainly one of the most innovative and captivating bands to ever play the Fillmore.