Farewell to the Ramblin’ Man: Founding Allman Brothers Band Singer/Guitarist Dickey Betts Dead at 80

Dickey Betts, co-founding singer/guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, has died. According to a message on his official website, Betts died in the early morning of April 18 “at his home in Osprey, [Florida], surrounded by his family.” He was 80.

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“It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard “Dickey” Betts,” the message reads. “Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide. At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

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A separate tribute posted on the Allman Brothers Band’s official site noted that Betts “passed away peacefully … following a period of declining health.”

The message praised Betts for his significant songwriting contributions to the band. It added, “His extraordinary guitar playing alongside guitarist Duane Allman created a unique dual guitar signature sound that became the signature sound of the genre known as Southern Rock.”

The tribute also noted, “He was passionate in life, be it music, songwriting, fishing, hunting, boating, golf, karate or boxing. Dickey was all in on and excelled at anything that caught his attention.”

Betts’ History with the Allman Brothers Band

Betts co-founded Allman Brothers Band in 1969, with brothers Duane and Gregg Allman on guitar and keyboards, respectively, bassist Berry Oakley Jr., and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson, a.k.a. Jaimoe. While Gregg Allman was the band’s main vocalist, Betts sang lead on many tunes as well.

Betts was responsible for writing some of the band’s biggest hits and best-loved songs. Among them were “Blue Sky,” “Ramblin’ Man,” “Jessica,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Revival,” and “Crazy Love.”

After Duane’s death in an October 1971 motorcycle crash, Betts continued as the band’s sole lead guitarist until Dan Toler joined the group in 1978. Toler left the band in 1982, and Warren Haynes joined as second guitarist in 1989.

In 1995, Betts was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Allman Brothers Band.

Outside of the Allman Brothers, Betts released a number of albums as a solo artist and with his side groups the Dickey Betts Band and Great Southern.

During the 1990s, Betts reportedly battled drug and alcohol issues that caused friction within the band. In 2000, he was suspended by his fellow co-founding Allman Brothers members Gregg Allman, Trucks, and Jaimoe. When he filed a lawsuit against his bandmates, the split became a permanent one.

After Leaving the Allman Brothers

After his departure from the Allmans, Betts continued to play with his solo band, which eventually feature his son Duane (named after the late Duane Allman).

In 2018, Betts suffered a mild stroke after falling an hitting his head at his home. Around that time, he underwent a successful operation to relieve swelling on his brain.

Only One Original Allman Brothers Band Member Is Still Alive

With Betts’ passing, Jaimoe remains the last surviving original member of the Allman Brothers Band. Similar to Duane, Oakley died in a motorcycle crash in November 1972. Trucks died by suicide in January 2017, and Gregg Allman died of liver cancer four months later.

Betts’ Son Has Followed in His Dad’s Footsteps

Interestingly, in 2018, Duane Betts formed the Allman Betts Band with Gregg Allman’s son Devon and Oakley’s son Berry Duane Oakley.

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster PR

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