Dickey Betts

Dickey Betts - born Forrest Richard Betts in West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1943 – was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known as a member of iconic Southern rock band The Allman Brothers Band. Raised on country music, Western swing, and traditional bluegrass, he learned to play the ukulele at the age of five. He later learned to play banjo, mandolin, and guitar before he began playing in rock groups at the age of 16. One of his early bands, Second Coming, featured bassist Berry Oakley, who he befriended and both musicians eventually joined brothers Duane and Greg Allman in their group The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Dickey Betts and Duane Allman created a unique melodic twin lead guitar style that would go on to influence many rock bands. However, Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971, had a profound effect on Dickey Betts and the rest of the group, as did Berry Oakley’s similar death a year later. Dickey Betts took over as the band’s guitarist and began singing and writing more songs for the group, including one of their most identifiable hits, “Ramblin’ Man.” While still a member of the group, he branched out and released his first solo album, Highway Call, in 1974, under the name Richard Betts. However, internal issues in The Allman Brothers Band led to their split in 1976. Dickey Betts formed a new band, Great Southern, and released the albums Dickey Betts and Great Southern (1977) and Atlanta’s Burning Down (1978) before he split the group and rejoined his old bandmates in The Allman Brothers Band in 1979. The reunited band released the album Enlightened Rogues (1979), Reach for the Sky (1980), and Brothers of the Road (1981) before splitting up again. Dickey Betts and two of his Allman Brothers bandmates – keyboardist Chuck Leavell and drummer Butch Trucks – joined forces in 1982 with former Wet Willie member Jimmy Hall in the group Betts, Hall, Leavell, and Trucks, but they couldn’t secure a recording contract, so they split up in 1984. Dickey Betts then formed The Dickey Betts Band and released the album Pattern Disruptive (1988) before The Allman Brothers reunited again in 1990. The group toured frequently and released several albums but by the year 2000, Dickey Betts was forced out of the group due to his drug and alcohol addictions. He returned to The Dickey Betts Band for the album Let’s Get Together (2001) before reforming Great Southern for the album The Collectors #1. For the next twenty years, Dickey Betts released a series of archive recordings under his own name as well as live sets by The Dickey Betts Band, Great Southern, and Betts, Hall, Leavell, and Trucks. Dickey Betts died of cancer and COPD on April 18, 2024, at the age of 80.

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