‘Ramblin’ Man’ Runs Close To No. 1 For Allman Brothers

October 13, 2017

One of America’s quintessential album rock bands were suddenly on the verge of a No. 1 single on 13 October 1973.

The Allman Brothers Band had been climbing the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks with guitarist Dickey Betts’ ‘Ramblin’ Man.’ The group had flirted with the chart four times before, firstly in 1971 when ‘Revival (Love Is Everywhere)’ edged to No. 92. Three 1972 singles, ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,’ ‘Melissa’ and their version of Elmore James’ ‘One Way Out,’ peaked at Nos. 77, 86 and 86 again, respectively. But even the top 40 was new territory for them until ‘Ramblin’ Man' came along.

On the chart of 13 October 1973, the track made a sudden surge from No. 7 all the way to No. 2, behind Cher’s ‘Half Breed.’ The group’s Brothers and Sisters album was becoming the biggest of their career, and that same week, spent what turned out to be the last of five weeks in a row at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Could the great masters of southern rock now take the remarkable leap and become the kings of Top 40 radio too?

allman brothers bandThe answer, as it turned out, was no. A week later, the Cher single did fall from No. 1, but it was not ‘Ramblin’ Man’ that inherited its crown. Racing up on the blind side, the Rolling Stones’ ‘Angie’ accelerated from No. 5 to the top, denying the Allmans their moment of ultimate singles glory. To rub salt into the wound, the Stones also usurped the Allmans on the album chart, ending that run for ‘Brothers and Sisters’ with the Goat’s Head Soup album.

When Dickey Betts reminisced with the Wall Street Journal about the song, he said: “When I was a kid, my dad was in construction and used to move the family back and forth between central Florida's east and west coasts. I'd go to one school for a year and then the other the next. I had two sets of friends and spent a lot of time in the back of a Greyhound bus. Ramblin' was in my blood.

“But the song, as I originally wrote it, had a country flavor and needed to be Allmanised—given that rock-blues feeling. I thought of Eric Clapton's ‘Layla’ —which had come out a year earlier—with its long jam at the end. I figured something like that might work. When we went into Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon in October '72, ‘Ramblin' Man’ was the first song we recorded—and it would be [bassist] Berry Oakley's last song before he died in a motorcycle crash a month later.”

Purchase 'Ramblin' Man' on Brothers And Sisters here.

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10 comments

  1. Steven Levine
    Reply

    As a lifelong ABB fan, I’m sorry to see the road ending, but so appreciative of the enjoyment I have had seeing them live and listening to all of the recorded music I could possibly find that they recorded. They have been my favorite band since the Beginning’s album and through whatever personnel changes that were required to keep the music alive and awesome! In 1991 I had the awesome experience of getting to work with Gregg on the film “Rush”…What a treat to have gotten to have the opportunity to talk with him a bit…He was extremely kind….I was the property master on that film and to this day remains a top experience of my 39 years in the film industry. I retired last year!!! I so wish my wife and I could see them at the Beacon for the final run. It has always been something we have wanted to do……I have however had the privilege to see the band live several times spending money on the best seats through whatever means i could find…..Well worth the memories….Peace to the Brothers!!!!! We will continue to see any or all of them live in whatever formation they appear….Be well…

  2. jean-pierre mercier
    Reply

    highway 41(rte. 41) is vineville avenue in macon where the big house is located. you can see the rte. sign when you look at the signage around there.

    1. steve
      Reply

      I thought it might be The Tamiami trail. Highway 41 goes from West coast Tampa Fl to East coast Miami. I enjoy all ABB, especially performing their songs, still learning soul singing from Greg Allman, a living legend!

  3. Donna Chambers
    Reply

    Can’t Get enough ABB my favorite is “I’m No Angel” And Whipping Post Thanks for years of awesome Southern Rock!

  4. Kim Allman
    Reply

    So, I suppose Ramblin’ Man is the highest ranked single they ever recorded. You know, the funny thing about Dicky Betts is, the more I experience the old videos and the more facts I learn about the history of the band, the more respect I have for him. When they were all young, their shit was on fire, for sure. Through all the deaths and transformations, still my favorite band of all times. Amazing talents on that stage.

  5. George
    Reply

    Yhere is so much to learn and love about the creativity of the Allman Brothers that I feel priviliged to have been born at the right time to enjoy them from the beginnings. The Beginning’s album being a double album their first called The Allman Brothers Band and their second Idlewild South both full of great songs and concert staples. They have continued to deliver except for a flaw in the eighties with the wrong record company and the wrong producers. God bless Tom Dowd for all he did for music and the Allman Brothers. My favorite band of all time. A plug for my favorite southern songwriter Randall Bramblett so very underrated. All his stuff is great and why hardly anybody is listening?? No more mr. Lucky is my favorite a five star album, anything else is at least four stars.

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