Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stephen Danko and The Allman Brothers

I recently bought this Agile AL2000 from Rondo Music in New Hampshire not because it reminded me of Duane Allman's tobacco burst Les Paul but because the Agile had a very wide neck, 1 3/4 inches at the nut. I had gotten a custom Strat neck made by a luthier in Vancouver that was that wide and really like it. The only Fender now made with a neck that wide is the very expensive Stevie Ray Vaughn (more about him and his brother Jimmy later) model. So the very inexpensive Agile with that wide neck was a good deal. After you play that size neck everything else seems like a toy. Rondo seems to be the only one producing these that aren't custom made. The P90 pickups were made by Russell Sasnett of Seattle and they are great.

Stephen Danko and Duane Allman went to Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, class of '64. Gregg Allman was in my class of '65.  I knew Duane a little better because we had a mutual friend who had his own apartment and we would hang out there. Stephen Danko died on July 26, 2008. Prostate cancer. He was a fantastic visual artist and a close friend to me for over 35 years. We studied photography together at the University of Florida with Jerry Uelsmann and John Lindstrom and then went to graduate school together at Florida State University and studied with Robert Fichter.  Stephen was a painter, photographer, art collector, and a very funny, kind person,

He knew the Allmans when they were all growing up in Daytona Beach together. He told me that one of their tricks as kids would be that one of them would get around behind you and kneel down and the other one would confront you and push you over the kneeling one. They were quite a team even as kids.
Allman Joys, circa 1965.
The last time I talked to the Allmans was at a concert they gave in Gainesville, Fla. promoting their first album. Danko took me to the concert and told me I had to hear them now (we had heard them plenty as "The Allman Joys" in Daytona at various clubs and events like our senior prom (above). They were "our band". He said I wouldn't believe the sound they had now - they had two drummers. He was right. Stephen briefly thought he might tour with them as their photographer. We all hung out after the concert and they had completely changed into very warm hippies - just like all of us had then.

Stephen Danko, Newton's Daughter,  1974.

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