Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers Band Guitarist, Dead at 80

Dickey Betts, lead guitarist and vocalist for the legendary Allman Brothers Band, has died. He was 80.

Betts' death, following a battle with cancer, was confirmed by his family in a statement to Rolling Stone magazine on Thursday.

"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 statement read.

"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."

Dickey Betts

Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band has died. He was 80.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Betts' cause of death was an undisclosed form of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the publication.

The current members of the Allman Brothers Band celebrated the life of the founding member in a statement to ET.

"With deep sadness the Allman Brothers Band learned today that founding member Dickey Betts has passed away peacefully in his home in Sarasota, Florida, following a period of declining health," the statement read. "Dickey wrote quintessential Brothers songs including 'Blue Sky,' 'Rambling Man,' 'Jessica,' 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed' and many others. 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, "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. Our condolences to his immediate family Donna, Duane & Lisa, Christy & Frank, Jessica, and Kim. Play on Brother Dickey, you will be forever remembered and deeply missed. Allman Brothers Band, Family, and Crew."

The guitarist began his career in the late '60s in the Jokers. Betts then assembled the band Second Coming with a friend. However, after meeting Duane Allman, Betts was asked to join his band, the Allman Brothers Band -- which he formed with his brother, Gregg Allman.

Betts took the background and support with songwriting through the band's self-titled release in 1966. In 1971, following the death of Duane Allman, Betts took on the role as lead guitarist and frontman of the Allman Brothers Band.

It was then that the band achieved larger success with the release of the 1973 album, Brothers and Sisters. Over the course of the '70s and '80s, the Allman Brothers Band broke and regrouped, as they dealt with a host of drug and alcohol issues among its members, before finding their footing again in the '90s.

The Allman Brothers Band

Dickey Betts joined The Allman Brothers Band in the 1960s.

GAB Archive/Redferns

In the span of his career, Betts released several albums with the Allman Brothers Band including Reach for the Sky and Brothers of The Road. Betts also had a host of solo efforts and albums with his band, Dickey Betts & The Great Southern.

The Allman Brothers Band

Dickey Betts and The Allman Brothers Band were induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 1995, Betts, along with the rest of the Allman Brothers Band, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Betts was also a GRAMMY winner and has been hailed as one of the greatest guitarist of all time.

In 2000, Betts officially left the Allman Brothers Band for good, and in 2017, he retired from playing and recording music. In the years that followed, Betts suffered a series of health setbacks, including a stroke in 2018.

Betts was married five times and had four children, Kimberly, Christy, Jessica and Duane -- named after his late friend and bandmate, Duane Allman.


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