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A Rambling Man is Laid to Rest

Bradenton's Dickie Betts Passes Away at 80


BRADENTON — Bradenton native and co-founder of the legendary Allman Brothers Band Dickey Betts passed away on Thursday following a battle with cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Betts' family announced the death of the musician on his Instagram account.

"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. The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch was at his home in Osprey, Florida, surrounded by his family. Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt worldwide. At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

Betts was born in West Palm Beach but raised in Bradenton by a musical family that exposed him to bluegrass and country music as a child. He began playing ukulele at five and later picked up mandolin, banjo, and guitar.

Rock and roll had gained popularity by Betts' teenage years, and he would go on to play in several rock bands, including two with founding Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley, who had moved to Sarasota from Chicago. Their second pre-ABB band, The Jokers, is referenced in the Rick Derringer classic, Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.

Betts penned The Allman Brothers' most successful single, 1973's Ramblin' Man, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 while hitting No. 1 on the Cashbox Top 100, an early competitor to Billboard. Betts also composed the band's next single, Jessica, which would go on the be the most radio-played instrumental rock song of all time. The title is in reference to one of Betts' daughters.

In addition to his work with the Allman Brothers, Betts found success with Great Southern, a band he formed during an ABB hiatus in the '70s following the death of Duane Allman, and would reform intermittently over the following decades, sometimes touring simply as the Dickey Betts Band. Several prominent local musicians have spent time in Betts' solo groups, including guitarist Damon Fowler, bassist Pedro Arevalo, and keyboardist Mike Kach, who wrote and sang the Great Southern ballad Get Away

Betts' son, Duane, eventually joined his father as the second guitarist before going on to form the Allman Betts Band with fellow second-generation ABB musicians Devon Allman and Berry Duane Oakley. Duane Betts is currently touring with his latest project, Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel. Betts' daughter Kimberly is also a musician, fronting the Gamble Creek Band, which often features Betts' grandson, Grant, on guitar.

Betts is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1995 and was ranked as the 61st best rock guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2011.


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