Remembering Dickey Betts’ Classic 1995 Performance With Bob Dylan—and How Dylan Honored Betts 25 Years Later

With a love for bluegrass and country music, the late great Dickey Betts first stepped on stage back in 1960. While not knowing what the future held at the time, the singer would go on to become an icon in country music. Thanks to hit songs like “Ramblin Man,” Betts solidified himself as more than a top name in country music as he seemed to encompass the genre. While a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Betts also landed on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. And apparently, among his group of fans was the iconic Bob Dylan. The hitmaker shared such an admiration for Betts that he once wished he had written one of his more memorable hits. 

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Previously sitting down for an interview with Ray Padgett for his book Pledging My Time: Conversations With Bob Dylan Band Members, Betts discussed how he and Dylan first crossed paths in the 70s. At the time, Betts spent a few days with the singer. And it seemed that their friendship ended up on the stage when they performed in Tampa, Florida back in 1995. 

[RELATED: Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Tim McGraw Among Stars Paying Tribute to Late Allman Brothers Guitarist Dickey Betts]

Deciding to perform “Ramblin Man” at the concert, Betts wanted to make sure that Dylan knew the song. He recalled their conversation. “Bob wanted do ‘Ramblin’ Ma,’. I said, ‘You don’t know the words to that, do you?’ He said, ‘I know all the words to ‘Ramblin’ Man.’ I shoulda wrote that song myself.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s check. If you don’t know, just make shit up, and you’ll do well.’ So we sang ‘Ramblin’ Man.’ He sang every word exactly the way I wrote it.”

Dickey Betts Eventually Found His Way Into A Bob Dylan Song

Betts watched shocked that Dylan not only knew the words but dominated the song. “I mean, he knew it! And he sang it better than it’s ever been sung before. He was talking and singing at the same time. It was great.”

Wanting to honor Betts, Dylan even mentioned him in his 2020 song “Murder Most Foul.” Again, shocked by the generosity of his friend, Betts explained, “Oh, that was such an honor. All my friends were coming to me saying, ‘Man, did you hear Bob Dylan mentioned you in a song?’ I said, ‘No s**t.’”

 (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster PR)

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