Billy Strings Tips His Hat to the Late Dickey Betts With “Ramblin’ Man” Performance

Dickey Betts helped define the southern rock genre as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. While Betts could certainly shred on the guitar, he also wrote many of the band’s most popular songs, including 1973’s “Ramblin’ Man.” Today, that song is arguably the most synonymous with the Jacksonville, Florida outfit. Fittingly, it’s the song bluegrass star Billy Strings recently chose to honor Betts, who died April 18 at age 80.

Videos by American Songwriter

Billy Strings Pays Tribute To Dickey Betts

After kicking off his Spring Tour in Tampa, Florida, Strings played three sold-out shows at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The GRAMMY winner closed out his April 19 show with a tribute to Betts. The cowboy figure loomed — literally — larger than life on screen behind Strings as he strummed along on his guitar.

[RELATED: Billy Strings Summer Tour ‘24: How To Buy Tickets and Upcoming Dates]

Online, fans called for Strings to release his official version of the rollicking ode to itinerant living. “Don’t EVER stop playing this song live,” one YouTube comment read. “You killed it like everything else.”

Another user commented that Betts was “smilin’ from heaven” at the homage from Strings.

The “Dust in the Baggie” singer was far from the only one in the industry to honor Bets. Country star Tim McGraw shared a picture to Instagram of himself wearing a guitar strap loaned to him by none other than the “Ramblin’ Man” himself.

“Legendary Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band was kind enough to lend me his guitar strap for this tour,” wrote the “Live Like You Were Dyin'” singer. “So honored to wear it and so sad that he’s gone. All of our love to his family and friends.”

The Allman Brothers Band Almost Didn’t Record ‘Ramblin’ Man’

After a year of working on a track inspired Hank Williams’ 1951 song “Ramblin’ Man,” Betts said the lyrics finally came to him within 20 minutes one night.

“I wrote ‘Ramblin’ Man’ in Berry Oakley’s kitchen [at the Big House] at about 4 in the morning,” Betts told journalist Alan Paul in 2014. “Everyone had gone to bed but I was sitting up.”

At first, the band was reluctant to record “Ramblin’ Man,” believing it strayed too far into country territory for their liking. However, former keyboardist Chuck Leavell wasn’t bothered “in the least.”

 “I think our attitude was, ‘Let’s take this thing and make it as great as we can,'” Leavell told Paul.

Featured image by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association

Leave a Reply

The Meaning and Story Behind “Look Away” by Chicago and the Future Hall of Fame Songwriter Who Wrote It