Following the deaths of Duane Allman in 1971 and bassist Berry Oakley in 1972, The Allman Brothers Band didn’t quit. Even in the wake of tragedy, the band soldiered on, bringing pianist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams into the fold and even making a new album, 1973’s Brothers And Sisters. That same year, they found themselves something of a national phenomenon: Their classic song “Ramblin’ Man” peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts in October, and they were quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best live acts in the country.
That brings us to the end of 1973—the very end, in fact—when The Allman Brothers Band played concert promoter Bill Graham’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, filling in for his usual bill, the Grateful Dead, as they were on hiatus. The celebration, recorded on this day (Dec. 31) and the wee hours of Jan. 1 in 1973 and 1974, is sprawling and energetic, a great representation of the Allman Brothers’ popular live chops. The band played three sets at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, the first clocking in at around 50 minutes. The countdown to midnight starts at the top of set number two, but the real excitement begins about halfway through a rare performance of “Les Brers In A Minor,” the second song on Eat A Peach. They jam out to this song for almost 30 minutes, and about halfway through, the Grateful Dead show up, after all. Jerry Garcia and drummer Bill Kreutzmann surprise the crowd and casually stroll on stage to join in, with no announcement whatsoever. Gregg Allman then leads everyone in a thundering instrumental version of “Whipping Post.”
The hubbub continues in set three, during which the musicians take a well-earned break and Bill Graham invites a couple on stage to say their wedding vows. As the show crawls to an end, they crank out a few measures of “Auld Lang Syne” and, with some more help from Garcia, produce one more righteous jam session in the form of “Mountain Jam.”
Listen to all three sets from The Allman Brothers Band’s 1973 New Year’s Eve concert below. Further down, watch an Allman Brothers concert circa 1982 via the Paste vault.