Nov 13

Leon Russell Meets the Allman Brothers In 1966

The Spotlights from Daytona Beach, aka the Allman Joys

The Spotlights from Daytona Beach, aka the Allman Joys

Leon Russell came from Tulsa, Oklahoma, but one of his early endeavors featured two Florida legends — in their first-ever record release.  I remember, as a 9-year-old, hearing “Batman And Robin” by the Spotlights on the radio.   It reached #12 on WQAM and #13 on WFUN in my hometown of Miami, during the third week of February 1966.   What I didn’t know until recently is who the Spotlights were:  a group that would soon be known as the Allman Joys, featuring two brothers from Daytona Beach by the name of Gregg and Duane.

Introducing the Spotlights. Click image to view it full size.

Introducing the Spotlights. Click image to view it full size.


Producer Snuff Garrett had the idea of creating an album of songs based on cartoon and comic book characters.  Garrett was coming off a great year, with several top ten hits as the guiding force behind Gary Lewis & the Playboys.   His musical director at the time was Leon Russell, who wrote and played on many Gary Lewis hits (including that memorable keyboard riff in “Everybody Loves A Clown”.)   According to Russell’s Tulsa cohort, J.J. Cale, Russell and Garrett recruited a group of musicians to record in New York, with the Spotlights being chosen as part of the entourage.  In a 1982 interview, Cale shared some of the details behind the project:   “Leon, Snuff , and I went up to New York City to cut this album. I was sitting in one room writing songs. Leon was in the studio leading the musicians, and Snuff was coming and getting the songs from me. He’d come in and say, ‘Write a song about Little Orphan Annie,’ and I’d start writing the song in the room and he’d take it into the studio where Leon would get all the musicians to play it. It was wild.”


One of three covers for the Super Dupers LP, featuring, among others, Leon Russell and Duane & Gregg Allman

One of three covers for the Super Dupers LP, featuring, among others, Leon Russell and Duane & Gregg Allman


“Little Orphan Annie” wound up being released as the Spotlights’ second single, on the B-side of Cale’s “Dick Tracy”.   All the tracks from the New York sessions turned up on an album called The Superrecord of Superheroes by the fictional group the Super Dupers.  The album didn’t credit the Spotlights, or any of the musicians.  The Super Dupers LP came out on two different record labels, with at least three different covers.   No one could have ever imagined back in early 1966 that several future superstars were taking part in such a humble, disposable project.  Who knew?

The Allmans would cross paths with Russell again, though a mutual association with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.  Gregg Allman and Leon Russell teamed up once more in 2011, joining Elton John in concert at Madison Square Garden.  It’s entirely possible that they may have reminisced backstage about the first time they worked together — on an obscure children’s album — and a song about the Dynamic Duo that started a Florida legend’s recording career.

(Some of the information for this blog post came from www.duaneallman.info)


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  1. Mickey Warner

    In the early 70’s after returning from vietnam my brother Craig and i went to a Joe Cocker, Maddogs & Englishmen concert in Atlanta and met Leon and went to his room to smoke weed, his and incredible. “A Song For You” is so great i want it performed at my funeral; but not too soon. I saw him with Joe and about 40 others in Washington State.RIP Leon and thanks for your beautiful music. Love you brother

  2. William Hall

    You never cease to amaze me jeff !! I just told Barbara that and she said she has heard it from me a hundred times !!

    1. Jeffers66 Savage Lost

      Thanks Bill. I’m glad to know someone enjoys these stories from long ago.

  3. Michael giffin

    Leon Russell and Duane allman were also featured on Freddie kings goin down

    1. scott

      I wish it were true.

  4. Eric Bard

    Thanks Jeff! It reminds of those days!

  5. jerry standley

    i met leon and jj cale back in july of 1970 at bradleys barn mt juliet tenn i had given out of gas and they sent a limo to get some for me we got a grove going while they were recording for jj 1st album i didn’t know who they were until i bought a used 8 track of leon’s first album and again a friend turned me onto jj’s first album looking on back of credits for jj’s there it was recorded at bradelys barn i saw leon perform 8 or 10 times durring 70’s and again with willy nelson in jacksonville willy’s road manager had me backstage for whole concert and caught a ride back to hotel on leons bus he and mary were so delightful i did get to see jj perform a couple of time i think it was in 2006 i saw jj cale play in athens ga{robert cray opened for him} it was on a thursday friday i saw don williams in dothan alabama sat i saw leon in destin one hell of a week i again so leon just a few years ago open for dylan at chaistain park atl leon put on the best show i get extremely sad and happy every time i think of jj cale and now leon too they bought bought tremendous joy to my life and now i know they are in gods band god bless

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