The Allman Brothers Band “You Don’t Love Me / Soul Serenade” (19:34)
(Recorded live August 26, 1971 at A & R Studios, New York City)
One important stop for The Allman Brothers Band was at New York’s A&R Studios. This show was a live FM broadcast, just thirteen days after the death of King Curtis.
Around midnight on August 13, 1971, Curtis was lugging an air-conditioning unit towards his brownstone apartment on West 86th Street in New York City when he noticed two junkies were using drugs on the steps to his home. When he asked them to leave, an argument started. The argument quickly became heated and turned into a fist-fight with one of the men, 26-year old Juan Montañez. Suddenly, Montañez pulled out a knife and stabbed Curtis in the chest. Curtis managed to wrestle the knife away and stab his assailant four times before collapsing. Montañez staggered away from the scene and Curtis was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died from his wounds less than an hour later.
This article from Hittin’ The Note by Tim Hoover details Curtis’ influence on Duane Allman.
During the broadcast, Duane pauses to reflect on his fallen friend:
“About King Curtis - that was one of the finest cats there ever was. He was just right on top of getting next to the young people, you know? It’s a shame. If y’all get the chance, listen to that album he made out at Fillmore West… Boy, it’s incredible, it’s unbelievable, the power and the emotional stature that man had. He’s an incredible human being…”
“At the funeral, boy, Aretha sang and Stevie Wonder played… they played “Soul Serenade.”
Duane breaks off into the melody of Curtis’ signature song, and a few in the audience respond with polite applause of recognition.
“Y’all probably a little bit young. It’s fantastic. We’ll do some of that… yeah, I know where we’ll do it…”
Duane and the band jump into the intro for “You Don’t Love Me”. A little over eight minutes into the song, Duane slows the band, reaching an achingly slow transitional phase, gradually leading everyone into his own version of “Soul Serenade”. When Duane plays the melody of the song again, the audience immediately begins clapping along to the sweet melodic tune. Suddenly, Duane jumps in and absolutely cuts the melody to shreds with one of the most moving, heart-felt solos you will ever hear, taking it right up into the stratosphere. Mirroring his words for Curtis, the ‘power and emotional stature’ of Duane’s own very personal and passionate eulogy for his lost friend is delivered as only he could do it - powerfully, lovingly, and gracefully.