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Allman Brothers Greatest Hits: 12 Top Tunes, Ranked!

Jam along to these innovative tracks from the revered southern-blues musicians.

Performing was always a magical, transformative experience for Gregg Allman. “I’ve walked onstage with an abscessed tooth and as soon as you get out there, it goes away. Walk offstage, it comes back. It’s the land of no pain,” he told Dan Rather during a 2015 interview.

The good times he and brother Duane had onstage with their musical collaboration — which they formed in 1969 with Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe Johanson — soothed audiences as well.

Their innovative blending of blues, rock, country, and jazz lead to a string of Allman Brothers greatest hits that earned them a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, with a Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award to follow in 2012.

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Throughout the years in between, though, there’d be a lot of pain that the music — nor Allman’s drug use — could numb.

Duane perished at age 24 in a tragic 1971 motorcycle accident, and just a year later, Oakley, also 24, was killed in a similar crash. “Soldiering on through grief…[Gregg] and the band became as well known for their stoic survival as they were for their freewheeling concerts,” the Hollywood Reporter once noted.

Allman Brothers greatest hits
Allman Brothers (1970s)Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

Those stellar concerts didn’t go unnoticed. In 2008, Billboard gave the group the prestigious Legend Of Live award.

“The Allman Brothers Band has rocked the house for four decades, ‘hittin’ the note’ for veteran fans and converting new generations year after year,” Billboard’s Ray Waddell said at the time, calling them “an American institution and concert icons.”

Though Duane and Oakley’s deaths — as well as infighting and several lineup changes — challenged the band through its bumpy history, the impact that the Allman Brothers greatest hits have left on the music world is undeniable. Sadly, with Dickey Betts’ passing on April 18, 2024, Jaimoe Johanson is now the only surviving member of the band’s original lineup.

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“He was a blues singer first, and he was so natural and so soulful,” Jackson Brown has said of Gregg’s contributions to the band and the music world as a whole. Country legend Willie Nelson also spoke of the group’s impact when he helped induct them at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“The Allman Brothers Band defined Southern rock,” he insisted, adding that “they had tremendous influence over the many who followed in their footsteps.” Calling them “road warriors with a vengeance [who] left devoted fans wherever they went.”

Nelson also explained how they were “one of the most exciting live bands that ever hit the stage.… Their sound — Duane’s incredible guitar work matched to Dickie Betts’ equally incredible guitar licks — created complex dual melodies supported by drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, [as well as] the powerful bass playing of Berry Oakley and the soulful organ and vocals of Gregg Allman.”

The band was fiercely determined “not to be confined musically or stylistically,” Nelson added, and this group of Allman Brothers greatest hits is just a small testament to their timeless originality.

Allman Brothers greatest hits, ranked

12. “Blue Sky” (1972): Allman Brothers greatest hits

“There may not have ever been a better pairing of two lead guitarists in their prime in rock history than [Duane] Allman and [Dickie] Betts, and ‘Blue Sky’ is among their greatest showpieces,” Billboard notes. Betts wrote it for his Indigenous Canadian future wife, whose last name, he said, meant “blue sky.”

In One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, he notes that “once I got into the song I realized how nice it would be to keep the vernaculars—he and she—out and make it like you’re thinking of the spirit, like I was giving thanks for a beautiful day. I think that made it broader and more relatable to anyone and everyone.”

11. “Dreams” (1969)

“Gregg’s soulful vocals and the band’s slow simmer (especially Duane’s equally soulful and simmering solo)” help to elevate this early track,” notes Ultimate Classic Rock.

“I showed them ‘Dreams,’ and let me tell you, they joined right in,” Gregg, who wrote it while he was still in LA and before he’d joined the band, revealed in his memoir. “We learned that song the way you hear it today, and I was in, brother.” A previously unreleased studio version was included in 1989’s Dreams box set.

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10. “Melissa” (1972): Allman Brothers greatest hits

Gregg Allman also penned this tune years before the Allman Brothers were formed, and he noted in his memoir that it was “my brother’s favorite song that I ever wrote.” When Duane tragically died in his 1971 motorcycle crash, Gregg pushed for it to be recorded for the band’s Eat a Peach album and he also played it at his brother’s funeral in his honor.

9. “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” (1972)

Duane’s death directly inspired this song, another track off Eat a Peach, the Allman Brothers’ album that was dedicated to his memory and their first released after his passing. “With the help of God and true friends, I’ve come to realize I still have two strong legs, and even wings to fly,” Gregg sings about finding the strength to move on, and he surely let his talents soar on this moving tribute piece.

8. “Statesboro Blues” (1971): Allman Brothers greatest hits

Named by Rolling Stone as the No. 9 Greatest Guitar Song of All Time, this Allman Brothers track is largely influenced by Taj Mahal‘s 1968 interpretation of Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 original. “We studied that kind of music. We grew up with it, we lived it. That’s the only kind of music we knew, or that we wanted to play,” Gregg Allman told Nashville Scene about his and his brother’s love of the blues.

7. “Revival” (1970)

“People can you feel it? Love is everywhere!” Notable for being the first Allman Brothers song to chart, this Dickie Betts-penned track also introduces a nice upbeat sound to the group’s repertoire. “I would really make an effort to write more up songs, to balance the band out,” Betts said in 2014, adding that “with my dad being a fiddle player, I kind of naturally liked the uplifting aspects of music.”

6. “Soulshine” (1994): Allman Brothers greatest hits

Songwriter Warren Haynes trades vocals with Gregg Allman on this for the group’s Peakin’ at the Beacon live album, which was recorded in 2000. “My dad was a big influence and inspiration,” Haynes told Ear of Newt about the song being inspired by his father, a vocalist who wasn’t able to pursue his singing career. “He always encouraged me. He could see early on that I was obsessed with music, really, and he encouraged me to follow my heart and my dream,” Haynes shared.

5. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” (1970)

This instrumental gem written by Dickey Betts has a bit of a scandalous backstory. “See, I was dating, I was slipping around, back-dooring Boz Scaggs’ girlfriend,” he revealed to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, noting how he couldn’t “out” her in the song title.

“So the place we would meet, in this old 1800s graveyard, Rose Hill, there was this old tombstone that said on it ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,’” he shared of the tune that musically was influenced by Benny Goodman’s melodies, Miles Davis’ jazz rhythms, and western swing.

4. “Jessica” (1973): Allman Brothers greatest hits

“It’s the happiest song I’ve ever heard,” Johnny Sandlin, the group’s producer notes in One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. “It still makes me smile every time I hear it.” Guitarist Dickey Betts was inspired to create the tune as he watched his daughter, whom the song is named after, playfully bounce around.

And pianist Chuck Leavell confirmed with Under the Radar that a playful baby was “certainly the image that was in my mind when I was doing the solo.” A live performance of the classic went on to win a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1996.

3. “Midnight Rider” (1971)

Though the band’s original version never charted, Joe Cocker’s cover of it reached No. 27 on the Hot 100 in 1972 and Willie Nelson took his take for The Electric Horseman to No. 6 on the country charts in 1980. Gregg Allman himself reimagined it for 1973’s Laid Back, his first solo album, and his personal spin on it went to No. 19. He called it “the song I’m most proud of in my career” in his 2012 memoir, My Cross to Bear.

2. “Whipping Post” (1969): Allman Brothers greatest hits

It’s hard to believe this was written on an ironing board cover with burnt out matches, but that’s how Gregg Allman tells it in his memoir. “I’d strike a match, blow it out, use the charcoal tip to write with, and then strike another one. I charted out the three triads and the two little steps, and then I went to work on the lyrics,” he shared. This fan-favorite closing track off their live At Fillmore East album helps cement that 1971 LP’s standing, as Rolling Stone once noted, as “the finest live rock performance ever committed to vinyl.”

1. “Ramblin’ Man” (1973)

Dickey Betts, who wrote this hit for the band, admitted to Dan Rather he was influenced by Hank Williams’ 1951 song of the same name when he penned it. He added that it also blossomed from “a real Kansas City hayseed” fence-building friend he had, who’d always ask him, “How you been doin’? Playin’ your music and doin’ the best you can, I reckon,” when Betts would visit. “That’s an autobiography, that song,” Betts said of the now classic hit for his band, which went to No. 2 even though it almost didn’t even make it on 1973’s Brothers and Sisters, he revealed.

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