Dickey Betts, influential Allman Brothers Band singer, songwriter and guitarist, dead at 80

Betts passed away Thursday morning in Florida.

April 18, 2024, 12:10 PM

Dickey Betts, the influential singer, songwriter and guitarist for Southern rock legends the Allman Brothers Band, has died at age 80.

"It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard 'Dickey' Betts (December 12, 1943 - April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old," reads a statement posted on Betts' official Instagram page. "The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch passed away earlier today at his home in Osprey, FL., surrounded by his family."

“Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide,” the statement continued. “At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days.”

PHOTO: Rock group The Allman Brothers
Rock group The Allman Brothers (L-R) Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny Johanson, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks sit on some rairoad tracks on May 5, 1969 outside of Macon, Georgia.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Betts co-founded Allman Brothers Band in 1969 along with brothers Duane and Gregg Allman, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson, releasing their self-titled debut that year. They went on to become one of the pioneering Southern rock bands and were particularly known for their touring career, which included long shows filled with extended jams.

In addition to playing lead guitar in the band, Betts wrote and sang lead on several songs, including “Ramblin’ Man,” one of their only top-10 hits, and “Blue Sky." He also composed the band’s well-known instrumental tunes, including “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

In a statement provided to ABC News by their publicist, the Allman Brothers Band said they greeted the news of Betts' passing "with deep sadness."

"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 statement continued, in part. "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 joins his brothers, Duane Allman, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman, as well as ABB crew members Twiggs Lyndon, Joe Dan Petty, Red Dog, Kim Payne and Mike Callahan in that old Winnebago in the sky touring the world taking their music to all who will listen," the statement concluded. "Play on Brother Dickey, you will be forever remembered and deeply missed."

Over the years, the Allman Brothers Band went on hiatus, with Betts concentrating on other projects, including a solo career and forming other bands, including Great Southern; Betts, Hall, Leavell and Trucks; and the Dickey Betts Band. He was officially ousted from Allman Brothers Band in 2000 and never played with them again.

PHOTO: The Allman Brothers guitarist, Dickey Betts pictured at the Grammy awards, Feb 1, 2005.
The Allman Brothers guitarist, Dickey Betts pictured at the Grammy awards, Feb 1, 2005.
Robert Knight Archive/Redferns/Getty Images, FILE

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

With Dickey’s death, 79-year-old drummer Jaimoe Johanson is the last living Allman Brothers co-founder.

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