Writers: Gregg Allman and Kim Payne
Producer: Tom Dowd
Recorded: February 1970 at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, and July 1970 at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida
Released: September 1970
|Players:||Gregg Allman — vocals, organ
Duane Allman — guitar
Dickey Betts — guitar
Berry Oakley — bass
Butch Trucks — drums
Jai Johanny Johanson — drums
|Album:||Idlewild South (Capricorn, 1970)|
Though never a hit single, “Midnight Rider” is one of the Allman Brothers Band‘s most memorable and enduring songs, and one that’s played at nearly all their shows.
Gregg Allman and Kim Payne began working on the song in a rehearsal hall in Macon, Georgia, where the group’s gear was stored. Payne was sleeping there to guard the equipment, since the room wasn’t in one of Macon’s better neighborhoods.
Payne remembered that during Allman’s visit to the hall, “He was playing, and we were doing a bunch of speed, and he kept going on about this midnight-rider thing. He was having a hard time with the words, and it was actually getting irritating.” Payne claimed he was the one who came up with the line “the road goes on forever.”
With its cowboy-styled theme, the song was unquestionably inspired by the hard touring the Allmans had done to promote their debut album.
After coming up with the song, Allman and Payne broke into the Capricorn Records studio, which was right next to the rehearsal hall, to record a demo before they forgot it.
The Idlewild South album was named after the Allmans’ farmhouse headquarters in Macon.
The album was their first with Tom Dowd, who had worked with Duane Allman on sessions for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, and who worked with the Allmans on their most memorable material.
The album peaked at Number 38 on the Billboard 200 chart and was later repackaged with the first Allmans album as Beginnings.