Dickey Betts figures Duane Allman is playing “Dreams” in heaven with Hendrix and the guys from Skynyrd

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 8, 1991

By Steve Newton

Back in the halcyon days of the early ’70s, there was a choice collection of albums that one gang of air-guitar-playing Chilliwack Junior High rockheads used to foam over. There was Deep Purple’s Machine Head, J. Geils’ Full House, Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies, Foghat’s Energized, Nazareth’s Razamanaz, and the debuts by Queen, Kiss, Montrose, Aerosmith, and Blue Oyster Cult, to name a few.

But one record that will always hold a cherished place in my memories of vinyl is the Allman BrothersEat a Peach. Not only was it one of the first double-discs we laid our paws on, but it included one track, “Mountain Jam”, that went on for over half an hour! That tune got you halfway to Vancouver (on the 8-track, of course) when it came time to cruise in and catch Kiss at the Commodore or Nazareth at the Forum (remember the Forum?).

Eat a Peach was also a sad album, though, since it signalled the last work of slide-guitar hero Duane Allman, who died in a Macon, Georgia motorcycle crash at the age of 24. But his brother Gregg—along with guitarist Dickey Betts and percussionists Jai Jaimoe and Butch Trucks (what a great name)—are carrying on the Allman Brothers legacy with a new album, Shades of Two Worlds, and a tour that brings them to the Pacific Coliseum August 19.

So what does it take to keep the nucleus of a shattered band together after 22-some-odd years? Could it come down to the fact that Betts and the surviving Allman have gotten along so well after all the years? ’Fraid not.

“I don’t know that Gregg and I have gotten along so good over all the years,” drawls Betts, “but we haven’t gotten along so bad, either. A lotta times when you’re in the public light a little bit, as we are, if you do have a disagreement it gets blown out of proportion. But just like any family, you can’t work this tight and live together like we do without having a few ups and downs.

“But I think the longevity of the band is more due to the fact that we’re an honest band, and we’ve got strong, genuine roots, from good country music—which is not the greatest influence in our band, but you can hear it in there with ‘Ramblin’ Man’ and some of that stuff—and then very strong jazz influences that run throughout all the instrumental things. And then of course you can hear the urban blues and the traditional blues influence.”

When all the Allman Brothers’ various influences were combined, the sound they ended up with became known as “southern rock”, and the group became the flagship band of that movement, followed in the ’70s by bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Outlaws, Blackfoot, and Molly Hatchet.

“We were the first band that sounded like this,” says Betts, “but we weren’t the first band that could have sounded like this, I don’t think. The thing is, most bands from the south would either move to L.A. or move to New York to get started. In fact, Atlantic Records did everything they could to get us to move out of the South. They said we’d never break out of the South. They said, ‘Move these guys to Los Angeles, dress ’em up, get ’em out of those damn boots and blue jeans.’

“But the truth is, not one of us in the band really thought we would be that ultra-successful, because we were not commercial at all. We were purposely trying not to be commercial; we were just sayin’, ‘We’re gonna play music, and we’re gonna play for our people here, that we can look in the face and see, and we’re not gonna play for record executives and people that sell things.

“And that’s the way a lot of people aspired to think during that period of time, when it was really in vogue to be rebellious against the establishment and everything. And it still is. It’s just not practised as much as it should be now.”

While the Allman Brothers made it big—and the southern rock bands that formed in their wake enjoyed varying degrees of success—Betts allows that rough-edged, down-home type of music isn’t too well represented nowadays.

“But a lotta the things that were going on in the late ’60s and the early- to mid-’70s are starting to come back in vogue,” he says. “Even some of the metal bands now are startin’ to play more blues solos—that are lyrical, that you can follow, you know, instead of the real 90-miles-an-hour, five-million-notes-in-a-solo kinda thing. So the influence is spreading throughout the musical world.

“I mean, the Black Crowes love our band and will say that we’re one of their influences. And Raging Slab, they say, ‘Man, the Allman Brothers is our favourite band.’ So it’s nice to see the young guys comin’ up that appreciate the band.”

Before Betts signs off from his Florida home, it’s time to get a little sentimental and slide the 47-year-old rock vet a bit of a cosmic query, like: If Duane Allman were jamming up in heaven with the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd, what tune would they be playing?

“Oooh, that’s a good one for you to ask,” says Betts. “I don’t know. But that’s a pleasant thought, and I’m sure that they are. Hendrix is right there with ’em, too. They’re probably playin’ ‘Dreams’—you know, that’s a nice drifty, heavenly kinda soundin’ song.”

 

To hear the full audio of my three interviews with Dickey Betts–and my interviews with Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks as well–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Mick Ronson, 1988
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
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Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
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2 thoughts on “Dickey Betts figures Duane Allman is playing “Dreams” in heaven with Hendrix and the guys from Skynyrd

  1. That was a great interview and article. Thanks for sharing. Great words of wisdom from Dickey Betts. Also prayers going out for Gregg Allman.

  2. Love dickey and his family my husband and i traveled and worked with him in the late 70’s…..so love my memories and how Duane betts is playing his music and you can see the betts shining through. I will never forget as it is recorded Dickey calling David a few days before he passed.we love you. Hope to see again ..soon denise..

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