I had first heard about Delaney & Bonnie in 1971 when they did a live radio broadcast for New York’s WABC-FM (which later became WPLJ). They were backed by an amazing group of players including Duane & Gregg Allman and King Curtis. Duane Allman’s slide guitar solo in “Out On The Open Road” remains one of my favorites to this day. By that time it seems like everyone who was anyone wanted to jam with what seemed to be the biggest rolling party on tour in rock and roll.
Eric Clapton had discovered D&B when they were the opening act for the 1969 Blind Faith tour and quickly became one of the “friends”. Clapton is quoted in his autobiography saying: “For me, going on with Blind Faith after Delaney and Bonnie was really, really tough, because I thought they were miles better than us.” This is also where Clapton met Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Gordon which later became Derick & The Dominoes. Duane Allman was also included on the Layla recordings and Clapton wanted Duane to join the band full time, but Allman had a little band of his own that he was more interested in playing with at the time.
George Harrison was so impressed with them that he offered Delaney and Bonnie a contract with the Beatles Apple Records label and also was how many of the same players wound up on Harrisons “All Things Must Pass” album. Harrison also credits Delaney with teaching him how to play slide guitar.
Other greats included with the “friends” were Leon Russell and Dave Mason. Many of D&B’s ex-members were recruited by Russell to join Joe Cocker’s band, participating on Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen 1970 recording sessions and North American tour. Mason took many of the same players on tour with him with Traffic and they played on the live “Welcome To The Canteen” recording.
Amazing how so many great players got linked up to make some of the greatest recordings in the history of rock though Delaney & Bonnie. D&B never did break though in a big commercial way and while many of their albums were well received by the music community, they never really sold very many. Still, I would have to say that they were one of the most important groups of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
I did a search on youtube and found this great video of “Coming Home” which features many of the “friends” that I’ve talked about. It looks as though they are having a great time on that rolling party. I wish I could have been there!