The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Gallery Talk: Duane Allman's 1959 Gibson Les Paul Guitars

Thursday, September 19: 11:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Duane Allman's highly prized 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar, on exhibit at the Rock Hall

Please note that these guitars are no longer on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Few guitarists made as lasting an impression in such short order as Duane Allman. Beyond his work with the his namesake group and principal architects of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band, Duane was an in-demand session musician. A fixture at Muscle Shoals, Duane's playing can be heard on records by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, among others, and he famously traded licks with Eric Clapton on Derek and the Dominos' 1970 release Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

This 1959 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul was acquired by Duane in the fall of 1970, after he fell in love with the instrument jamming with a band called the Stone Balloon in Daytona Beach, Florida. The guitar can be heard on the seminal Allman Brothers Band live concert recording At Fillmore East. Recorded at the famed NYC concert hall on March 12 and 13, 1971, sprawling jams such as "Whipping Post," inspired blues including a cover of "Statesboro Blues" and fiery, jazz-inspired epics like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" showcased Allman's near-singular dexterity and versatility as a true guitar virtuoso. 

Recently, the Gibson Custom Shop visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland with guitarist and Country Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Lee Roy Parnell to research Duane Allman's '59 Gibson Les Paul. After extensive interviews with historians, previous owners of the guitar and friends of Allman and his band, Parnell concluded that "this particular guitar was the one that Duane used most often to record and perform live."

In 2013, Gibson Custom released a limited edition, painstakingly recreated version of the Duane Allman cherry sunburst '59 Les Paul. That original '59 Les Paul as well as another '59 Les Paul delivered to Duane on June 25, 1971 have long been part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's collection. Both 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitars were loaned to the Museum by Duane Allman's daughter Galadrielle. The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.



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