Read all about the original Allman Bros. in Atlantic City and see a photo gallery from their shows at Steel Pier and in Atlantic City.
During a career that now spans 42 years, the Allman Brothers Band has shared a stage with such musical luminaries as the Grateful Dead, B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix.
Forty years ago this summer at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, the band shared a bill with another legendary performer — a four-footed one.
“They used to talk about opening for a diving horse,” recalled Kirk West, an archivist and former road manager for the band.
An airborne equine and a boardwalk environment created an atmosphere far different from the clubs and theaters the group would normally play.
The six days of shows at the Steel Pier — July 5-10 — were not the standard type of concert for the Georgia-based band. The engagement was the longest in one place for the original lineup featuring slide guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley.
Before arriving in Atlantic City, the band had its highs and lows on the road, just like the ocean tide. Promoter Bill Graham, an avid fan, had selected the group to close the Fillmore East in New York City on June 27. An eagerly awaited concert set for Independence Day weekend at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island was canceled due to a major crowd disturbance, a big letdown for the group.
Money was a prime factor in bringing the band to South Jersey as part of a tour to promote Idlewild South, the group’s second album.
“We got a pretty good fee,” recalled Willie Perkins, the band’s road manager for the tour. The band received $12,500 for the concerts under the contract that was signed in February 1971.
The Steel Pier performances meant a change in the band’s routine. While the Allman Brothers would normally play concerts of more than two hours and occasionally more than twice that length at the Fillmore East, the contract called for “3 shows daily, 30 to 40 minutes each.”
The shortness of the set required an adjustment. “One song could normally last 30 minutes,” Perkins said. Performances of “Whippin’ Post” and “Mountain Jam,” could surpass the half-hour mark, thanks to extended solos.
Billed in a newspaper ad as a “popular rock group,” the Allman Brothers performed in the Golden Dome Ballroom. Receiving top billing in the same ad and performing in the Music Hall were the Cowsills, a different type of sibling act. Admission, which included the bands, two movies, children’s theater, the diving horse and water show, was $3 for adults and $1.50 for children.
The two musical acts never crossed paths, Perkins said. “We never saw them and they never saw us.”
George Jackson opened the Steel Pier in 1898, less than 50 years after Atlantic City’s incorporation. He was followed by owner Frank P. Gravatt, a showman who realized the public’s appetite for an eclectic mix of entertainment in one location at one price, 25 cents.
The Catanoso brothers were already seasoned amusement-park veterans when they reopened Atlantic City’s Steel Pier with 14 rides in 1993, a scant 22 days after signing a five-year lease that extended to the year the famous Pier turned 100.
One year to the date Gov. Chris Christie signed landmark legislation designed to revitalize Atlantic City and set the surrounding region on a new course for economic growth, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) adopted the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan in a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the A.C. Convention Center.
The Philadelphia-based band Steal Your Face is no stranger to southern New Jersey, having done numerous local gigs including after-parties at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Café when the Allman Brothers Band and Furthur (the band featuring the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, among others, which is coming back to Atlantic City in November) were each in A.C. last year. Early last month, though, the band jammed for the first time on the deck of a party boat during a three-hour back-bay tour of Margate. “I was really impressed by how cool that was and how well it went,” says Steal Your Face rhythm guitarist Garry Engle. “Everybody had a great time, so we’re doing it again.” This Saturday, Sept. 17, from 7-10pm, the five-man band (also including lead guitarist Curtis Eustace, drummer Lou Zalvino, bassist Paul Baroli and keyboardist Michael Morrow) will do another sunset jam aboard the 65-foot Jessie O’ II party boat. The boat leaves Captain Andy’s Marina (9317 Amherst Ave., Margate) at 7pm and includes a buffet dinner, live music and scenic bay cruise for $40 per person, or $75 per couple. There will be no liquor served, but patrons are welcome to BYOB. Call 412-3635 for reservations. Click here for an awesome...
Steel Pier Associates, LLC, it was announced late Wednesday, Aug. 3, has become the new and latest owner of Atlantic City's famed Steel Pier, an amusement park with a rich history, which resides on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
For Catanoso, the interest of casinos in embracing the amusement pier is a hopeful sign. Operators of family attractions have long been battling it out alone.
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