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Eric Clapton joins The Allman Brothers Band in NYC

When The Allman Brothers Band encamped recently at New York's Beacon Theater - their 20th year of spending the better part of March at the famed venue, and to mark their 40th year as a band to boot - they promised a host of guest stars.

Sure enough, notables have been turning up each night: Levon Helm, Johnny Winter, Phish's Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell, Boz Scaggs, John Hammond, Bonnie Bramlett and Susan Tedeschi (wife of Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks).

Rumors of Showhand spread for months

This journalist has seen Clapton play Layla on dozens of occasions, and last Thursday's performance might be the best he's ever witnessed

But even before the Allman's run began, rumors were hot and heavy that a VERY special guest would make an appearance, and last Thursday (19 March) months of speculation came to pass as Eric Clapton joined the band onstage to help them honor the legacy of founding member Duane Allman in the nicest way possible.

Introducing Clapton as "a real great player and a real wonderful person," keyboardist-singer Gregg Allman must've seen history flash before his eyes: four decades ago, Clapton formed the one-time only supergroup Derek & The Dominoes, and the resulting album, considered a classic, featured crucial slide guitar contributions from Duane Allman.

None of which was lost on the ecstactic crowd, who cheered wildly with each number Clapton played with the band: Keys To The Highway, Dreams, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Little Wing and Anyday.

But it was the will-he-or-won't-he-play it? encore of Layla that took the night - and the entire Allman Brothers Band run - to a spiritual high. This journalist has seen Clapton play Layla on dozens of occasions, and last Thursday's performance might be the best he's ever witnessed.

Sit back, click on the video and take it in. You won't be sorry.

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