By Steve Newton
On August 20, 2001, I did my fourth interview with guitar legend Dickey Betts. The date can be seen as significant in a couple of ways, because it was one week before the first anniversary of former Allman Brothers bassist Allen Woody’s suspected overdose death, and just 11 days after the bizarre death of Chris Williams, who sang and played guitar with Betts’ son Duane in a group called Backbone69.
In case you’re not familiar with Backbone69, it was a southern-flavoured rock band comprised of the sons of four famous musicians. As well as Duane Betts, it included bassist Berry Oakley Jr.–son of the Allman Brothers’ Berry Oakley–and drummer Alex Orbison, son of Roy. Chris Williams was the son of songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams, who has written for such stars as Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and my mainman Stevie Ray Vaughan.
I’d never heard Backbone69 till just recently, when I played the tape of my interview with Betts for the first time in 17 years and, intrigued by their story, checked them out on YouTube. Man do they sound like they had it goin’ on.
Anyway, I called Dickey up at his hotel in Columbus, Ohio, and after a little introductory chit-chat I asked him about the Woody t-shirt he was wearing on the cover of his latest album, the Dickey Betts Band’s Let’s Get Together. That led to him denouncing “goddamn heroin” and describing the Backbone69 tragedy–which was no doubt still fresh in his mind–as a “fucking shame”.
Have a listen:
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