The Allman Brothers Band could have wrapped up their farewell concert with any number of songs. They could have gone with an epic, jammed-out “Whipping Post,” which they did for the second last song at New York’s Beacon Theater on October 28th, 2014. They could have gone with a classic like “Mountain Jam,” “Midnight Rider” or “Melissa,” but they did those earlier in the night during the four hour blowout. Instead, they went with Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” from their first side of their 1969 debut LP. An emotional Gregg Allman told the crowd that night it was the first song played at the group’s first rehearsal. “This was at about 3:30 in the afternoon, on March 26th, 1969,” he said. “Never did I have any idea it would come to this.”
It came to this after 45 amazing years that saw more tragedy and heartbreak than just about any group in rock history. They endured the deaths of guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley in separate motorcycle accidents just a few years after the group began, two breakups, a bitter split with founding guitarist Dickey Betts after years of acrimony and numerous health problems for Gregg Allman that threatened their existence time and time again. Throughout it all they kept gigging, helped in no small part by the addition of guitarists Warren Haynes in 1989 and guitarist Derek Trucks (nephew of drummer Butch Trucks) a decade later.
When the time came to call it quits in 2014 there was no other place to end it than the Beacon Theater. They first played a residency at the Upper West Side theater in 1989 and three years later they turned it into an annual tradition. Fans from around the country descended on New York City every March for a chance to catch the shows, which featured a steady stream of surprise guest stars, amazing covers and unforgettable nights.
Demand for tickets was never higher than the October 28th, 2014 show. Days after it ended, Derek Trucks told Rolling Stone they ended at the right time. “If we’d gone on much longer, we wouldn’t have been able to summon that [last] show,” he said. “Almost any other time there’s a huge send-off, it’s a star-studded thing. This was just the band showing up and playing, the way they always did. There’s something honest and proud, dignified and beautiful about the way it ended.”
From nearly the minute it ended rumors began spreading that the band was going to reform. “I would never rule anything out,” Haynes told Rolling Stone in 2015. “There’s no talk of that, but you know, I think the door’s always open.” That door began closing in January when Butch Trucks committed suicide, and it permanently closed on May 27th when Gregg Allman died after a long battle with liver cancer. Thankfully, the group had the opportunity to meticulously plan their final show and go out on an incredibly high note.