Dickey Betts says “a dirty little business deal” got him kicked out of the Allmans

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 30, 2001

By Steve Newton

On the cover of his latest CD, former Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts is pictured standing in the entranceway of his Florida home, surrounded by his six bandmates, a small dog leaning against his denim-clad leg. The 57-year-old southern-rock hero looks contented in his snakeskin boots and white cowboy hat, but the image on his T-shirt makes you realize that things haven’t been all rosy for him.

It’s a colour picture of Allen Woody, the long-time Allman Brothers Band bassist whose body was discovered in a New York hotel room last August. Woody was the third ABB member to die before his time, following in the tragic footsteps of guitar legend Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley, who were killed in separate motorcycle accidents in the early ’70s. Sometimes it just seems as though that band is cursed. “It’s not just the band,” Betts counters on the line from a tour stop in Columbus, Ohio, “it’s this goddamned heroin, killin’ everybody, man.”

Betts might consider himself lucky to have gotten out of the Allman Brothers fold in one piece. He abruptly left the group last summer, amid claims that he was kicked out for excessive drinking. Betts has his own take on the breakup, though.

“You know, I refused to get into this dirt-throwin’ contest,” he contends, “but I don’t know how else to put it: it was a dirty little business deal, is what it was. You know, [founding drummer] Butch Trucks decided about three years ago that he was the leader of the Allman Brothers Band, and ever since he had come to that epiphany, there’s been nothing but trouble, so… You know, I begged those guys, ‘If we’re gonna blow the band up like this, let’s do a farewell tour and end a great history and leave it on a good note.’ But they wouldn’t do it.”

Shortly after his acrimonious split from the Allmans, Betts formed his own group and recorded Let’s Get Together in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida. He’s on a North American tour that hits the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday (September 4) for an early (7:30 p.m.) show. “I’m really makin’ some great music with these guys and enjoyin’ it,” Betts reports. “The only difference is I’m not makin’ anywhere near the kind of money that the Allman Brothers Band makes. But my house is paid for, you know, and I’ve got a little bit of money in my retirement thing, so I did manage to plan for the future.”

Judging by the potency of his patented Les Paul wail on the steamy, 10-minute–plus jazz-rock workout “One Stop Be-Bop”, Betts won’t be retiring anytime soon. He wrote seven of the 11 tracks on Let’s Get Together, and trades fiery licks throughout with guitarist-vocalist Mark May, who also handles slide guitar on the CD. May’s not professing to be the next Duane Allman, though. Or even the next Warren Haynes.

“Mark doesn’t claim to be a slide player,” Betts notes. “He’s not tryin’ to really burn it up or anything, you know. His thing is that Albert Collins–style, real stingin’, trebly kinda fast stuff that you hear on there—that’s him doin’ that. And he sings. I love his voice. He’s got kind of a Freddy King–sounding voice.”

Another Betts-penned opus on the new disc is the Santana-flavoured “Dona María”, which clocks in at more than 12 minutes. “I didn’t just do it for the sake of havin’ it long,” Betts notes, “but the guys were playin’ so good, and things flowed well. I did edit some places that needed editing, you know; I clipped off a few of the vamps that I thought were too long. Plus, when we got ready to mix we had 80 minutes, and you can’t get 80 minutes on a CD.”

When the Dickey Betts Band plays the Commodore, don’t expect any concise, AM radio–sized ditties to make the set list, ’cause these guys love to jam. That said, there could be room for the odd hit single. “I do about a two-and-a-half- to three-hour show when time allows,” Betts points out, “and I’ve got so much stuff that it changes from here to there. But I always do either ‘Jessica’ or ‘Elizabeth Reed’, and sometimes I do ‘Ramblin’ Man’. And I always do ‘Blue Sky’. I mean, if I bought a ticket to go see Dickey Betts and I didn’t get to hear ‘Blue Sky’, I’d be a little disappointed.

“So I do all the stuff that I wrote. I don’t do anything that Gregg [Allman] wrote, and I don’t even do anything that we covered, like ‘Statesboro Blues’ and ‘Stormy Monday’—that was Gregg’s kind of signature. So there’s plenty of music out there for me to do without havin’ to take ‘Whipping Post’ and ‘Melissa’ and put it in my show.”

 

To hear the full audio of my 2001 interview with Dickey Betts–and my interviews with him from 1991 and 1992 as well–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 250 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

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19 thoughts on “Dickey Betts says “a dirty little business deal” got him kicked out of the Allmans

  1. It has always irritated me at how the ABB ended up treating Dickey. Betts was the most important member in the history of the band, and they ran him out, and in effect stole a great amount of money from him.

      1. Ol’ “SKYDOG ALLMAN ” THE GREATEST White SLIDE GUITARIST Who ever picked up a Guitar !! (even better than Johnny WINTER !! )

      2. Ummm, beg to differ. You’ve obviously never heard that Duane Allman passed away way back in 1971 (only 2+ years after the band’s creation) and that Dickey Betts wrote most of their original songs as well as contributing lead vocals and obviously most of the recorded lead guitar up to 2000. Duane Allman might have been an awesome slide/lead player, but he was no singer or songwriter/composer like Dickey Betts who certainly held his own in the lead guitar department (e.g. Fillmore East). If it wasn’t for Dickey Betts, the ABB would have never had a #2 singles (“Ramblin’ Man”), #1 album (“Brothers and Sisters”), nor been able to make a come back in 1989 when he again penned most of the Seven Turns album while bringing along Warren Haynes from his own Dickey Betts Band. Finally, little did you know that Dickey originated the dual lead guitar format with
        Larry Reinhardt with The Second Coming band BEFORE the ABB were even formed. Dickey Betts is by far the most important member in the HISTORY of the band and his playing, singing and writing legacy is the undeniable proof for anyone who bothers to learn about it.

  2. I heard Gregg say on xm radio that he wants to play with DickEY Betts once more before he leaves this world…maybe I can be there….wish.

  3. Give it one more try it heals the pain mind body & soul its the best bet especially for a band that’s been through so much

  4. Greg Allman began writing hit songs for the ABB at the request of his brother Duane. He was and is the face and breath of the ABB. Dicky wanted to be leader of the band after Duane’s death but kept alot of trouble going within the group. Maybe they’ll get back together after some ego’s drop.

    1. Please ! Gregg Allman is only the face of the so-called ABB because Phil Walden named the band after him and his brother as a promotional gimmick, especially when Gregg was the last member to join ! Moreover, Gregg didn’t write any particular hit songs in the Billboard Top 100 except ‘Melissa” (#86) and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” (#77) from Eat a Peach which were his best overall all the way back to 1972. If the ABB had any true commercial hit songs, it was from DICKEY BETTS with “Ramblin’ Man” (#2), “Crazy Love” (#29), “Straight From The Heart” (#39) and “Jessica” (#65) that all scored higher than Gregg’s best. There is also no ABB radio classics without “Blue Sky”, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, “Southbound”, “Seven Turns”, among many others which were mostly written and recorded by again DICKEY BETTS whose last name is unfortunately as the band.

      The so-called “Allman Brothers Band” was and always will be a commercial misnomer, and you are just repeating old and tired talking points like a typical clueless sheeple…

      source: http://www.billboard.com/artist/379493/allman-brothers-band/chart

      1. And yet, greggs solo career was much more successful than Dickeys! Hmmmmm. I love Dickey. And I am one of those guys who think they should not have gone on tour under the name ABB without him. But to say Dickey was most important….no. Duane was the leader, the improviser. And although I think Dickeys voice was a great counterpoint to greggs- greggs voice was the voice of the ABB.

      2. Lmfao , Hell yes , you are so right on . Dicky Betts did not get the true recognition he deserved . Dicky Betts would of been the face behind ABB if his last name would of been “Allman” . Instead they kick him out of the band , make up a bunch of stuff , leak it out to the public , for the same shit all the ABB members were doing ….

      3. Very well put…I’ve kinda lost track of Dickey n sure wish I hadn’t …I’ll b sure and do somethin about that…I agree…Dickey was a HUGE part of the band and they were never the same, although still a great band, after hie departure.

      4. you are crazy as hell…yeah,the other guys were important,but they were no Gregg Allman…There was one,he is gone…no more Allman Brothers

  5. Ya’ll need to read Greggs book. Dicky was fighting and picking fights and trying to be the boss. Had Duane lived, he never would have tried to pull the shit he did. It was a power struggle but Dickey was creating Drama that Gregg and most of the band finally had enough of. His shrill playing up against Duanes smooth powerful improve is so evident that I can’t even get through E Reed without fast forwarding through Betts mechanical and anything but flowing guitar playing. He wrote some great songs. Gregg didn’t need him, He needed Gregg. You don’t have to agree.

  6. I rotally agree you need to read Greggs book, Dickey couldnt give up the drugs and alcohol after Gregg got clean and banned all of it from recording sessions the band all agreed he had to go and I absolutely believe that to be true no matter what BS Dickey tells. He will never match or come close to what Gregg did for the music industry, sorry no offense Mr. Betts thats just the facts.

  7. Dickey Betts wrote so many of the classic Allman Brothers songs. And his solos are really distinctive and great. Yes Duane Allman was the greatest slide guitarist ever but Dickey is equally good.

    1. letś get realistic here…There was Duane and no way in hell,Dickey was not the player DA was

  8. Regardless of anything that happened , Dickey Betts will go down in history as a founding member and driving force of the Allman Brothers Band. ABB without Dickey is like the Stones without Keith Richards.

  9. Nice work! Dickey has been my all time favorite Guitar since I bought my first Allman Brothers band live at Fillmore East in 1976. I’m lucky I live in Sarasota I get to see him and his kids play quite frequent

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