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Tuesday marks the Allman Brothers Band’s 50th anniversary and the launch of the Allman Betts Band featuring Devon Allman, Sarasota native Duane Betts and Venice resident Berry Duane Oakley.

Los Angeles, CA (December 13, 2018) –  It’s a beautiful March afternoon and Dickey Betts — longtime lead guitarist, songwriter and singer in the Allman Brothers Band — enjoys a cup of coffee at home on Little Sarasota Bay while discussing the legendary group he co-founded 50 years ago.

{Full article can be found at the Herald Tribune}

Stories from the past are generously shared but the one topic he really sounds excited about involves a new band that will soon hit the road with the those iconic ABB initials.

To coincide with the milestone anniversary, the Allman Betts Band featuring second-generation standouts Devon Allman, Dickey’s son Duane Betts and Berry Duane Oakley will launch a worldwide tour Wednesday. Their debut LP “Down to the River” will be released in the summer.

“It’s good to see those guys together,” Betts says. “I suggested they get together years ago but they wanted to do individual things and I think they sound wonderful together. Berry Oakley Jr. is fantastic with them. It’s important to have strong partners and I think they’re going to do very well.”

There’s also the June release of the new live CD/DVD “Rambling Man: The Dickey Betts Band Live at the St George Theater” featuring Dickey and son Duane performing Betts classics like the title track, “Blue Sky” and “Jessica.” Devon Allman makes a guest appearance, too, to sing his dad Gregg Allman’s song “Midnight Rider.”

Betts, who turned 75 in December, says he’s feeling OK today. It’s been an eventful past year, to say the least. He started touring again last spring with his Dickey Betts Band. Then, an accident occurred here in September that required brain surgery.

“Two weeks before I went on the road I had a stroke. It was a mild stroke, thank God, but it did impair my right hand some,” Betts says. “I went and did those shows and then about halfway through those I was washing my Labrador and she yanked me into the steps trying to get back in the house. I had to have brain surgery so I had to cancel my remaining dates. I don’t know if I’m even going to go back out this year. It’s not very exciting but it’s the truth.”

Later, though, Betts says, “I don’t count my band completely out.”

Anyone familiar with the man’s life and career knows better than to ever count out Dickey Betts.

MARCH 26, 1969

Duane and sibling Gregg Allman grew up in Daytona while the Betts family has ties to Sarasota-Bradenton dating back to about the time of the Civil War.

After years of playing in various bands in many of the same Florida clubs, the Allman Brothers Band came together in Jacksonville with guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts jamming with bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Jai Johanny Johanson (later known as Jaimoe) and Butch Trucks.

Betts remembers how he and the rest of the musicians pleaded with Duane to get Gregg, who was in California at the time, in their new band.

“Yeah, Duane and his brother were having an argument and Duane didn’t want Gregg,” Betts recalls. “We had five of us, and Duane was singing and there was me singing and Berry Oakley singing but we were guitar players; we weren’t really singers. We knew Gregg and we kept trying to get Duane to call him.

“We finally talked Duane into calling Gregg one night and when he came down I think we were in the middle of ‘Don’t Want You No More,’ the instrumental version we did of the Spencer Davis Group song. Gregg walked in on that and he was saying, ‘God, what a band!’ He was just really blown away, which made us all proud. We were real glad to see Gregg.”

Gregg Allman sang the band’s arrangement of “Trouble No More,” pretty much exactly as they would on record and then in concert for decades, on March 26, 1969, the birth date of the Allman Brothers Band.


Following the release of their landmark 1971 live album “At Fillmore East,” lead guitarist Duane Allman and then bassist Oakley died in separate motorcycle accidents. The Allman Brothers’ ’73 LP “Brothers and Sisters” featured the No. 1 hit “Ramblin’” Man” and propelled the band to superstardom but then they split several years later. The Allman Brothers Band reformed in ’78 and then broke up again in ’82.

After spending the better part of the 1980s living in the Sarasota area while relegated to playing clubs and bars with their respective solo groups, Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts did it: They resurrected The Allman Brothers Band — again.

The bestselling 1989 “Dreams” box set and subsequent albums of new material starting with “Seven Turns” put the Allman Brothers back on top.

By the early 1990s, they were headlining 10,000- and 20,000-capacity venues across the country.

Older songs played regularly on classic rock radio while new singles including “Good Clean Fun,” “End of the Line” and “No One to Run With” were heard on mainstream rock stations with their music videos appearing on MTV. In ’95, the Allman Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“We had some real tragedies losing Duane and losing Berry Oakley and we had to keep the band together, had to keep it effective, and viable through all that period,” Betts says. “We took off the (1980s) and Gregg and I put our little bands together and played clubs. After we got back together a lot of writers from Rolling Stone and stuff were calling us dinosaurs and making fun of bands like us and wondering if we could still play and we were determined. It gave us more drive and we showed we weren’t done yet. We made some of our best records and I think that helped put us in the Hall of Fame.”

The Allman Brothers’ summer tours of the era were family affairs with Betts initiating a tradition of bringing their sons on stage.

Berry Duane Oakley, who’s slightly older than Devon Allman and a few years older than Duane Betts, made his debut with the Allman Brothers Band on Aug. 11, 1989, at Shoreline Amphitheater near San Francisco.

“I was only 17 at the time and the only kid without a dad and Dickey and (his wife) Donna brought me on the road,” Oakley says from his home in Venice. “There, at that particular show, Dickey goes, ‘By the way, you’re sitting in with us.’ He took me backstage and showed me the chords to ‘Southbound.’ I had my bass for jamming at the hotel but had no idea I’d be sitting in. I think my mom still has the press clipping.”

A few years later, Duane Betts’ teen peers watched him on MTV when he joined the Allman Brothers Band during their triumphant performance at Woodstock ’94. Dickey would continue to encourage Duane the rest of his career, which includes the release last year of his acclaimed debut solo EP “Sketches of American Music.”

“He’s always just told me to ‘keep playing guitar,’” Duane says of his famous father, who raised him in Sarasota. ”‘Keep playing that guitar and you’ll be OK.’ He was always reassuring to my trepidation about how it will all work out in the end, and everything has really turned out the way I dreamed.”

At one Allman Brothers show in the 1990s, Betts crouches behind his stack of Marshall amplifiers during a drum solo. He spots Devon Allman watching from the side of the stage and motions over to him.

Devon asks if can get him anything. Betts points to the cheering crowd and tells Devon to look out there.

“Someday that’s going to be you and Duane’s crowd,” Betts says.

It’s a fond memory of Devon’s.

“At the time I was in my early 20s and really just trying to scratch and claw my way into a career and into a sense of comfortability with the genre that I would land in,” says Devon, whose latest solo album “Ride or Die” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart. “I was focused as a musician but I didn’t have much focus on the type of music I wanted to play so that hit me really hard but I kind of let it drop away because I had so much work to do to become someone who could make records and tour the world. Those words that Dickey had said to me came back around and reverberated stronger when I started touring with Duane. Dickey was really sweet and he was kind of telling the future there.”


The Allman Betts Band — featuring Devon Allman and Duane Betts on lead guitars and vocals with Berry Oakley Jr. on bass — will kick off its inaugural world tour at The Brooklyn Bowl in New York City on Wednesday. The shows will feature new music from the upcoming debut album “Down to the River,” recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as classic Allman Brothers songs in honor of the band’s 50th anniversary.

“When my dad passed and, at the same time Dickey had retired, Duane and I came together and just realized it would be weird if we didn’t play a few of their songs,” Devon Allman says from his St. Louis area home. “It’s amazing to see grown men burst into tears after hearing the opening of ‘Blue Sky’ or ‘Midnight Rider.’

“That music is going to live on and it’s humbling, and we’re as serious as we can be to do our part to put our music into that same well. We’re comfortable and honored to play our fathers’ music and keep it alive but we must also stay vital and stay real to ourselves. It’s really about striking that balance.”

It’s a special bond shared by Devon, Duane and Berry, who have known each other since meeting as kids 30 years ago on the road with the Allman Brothers Band.

“There’s a closeness there due to the legacies, for sure,” Devon says. “We can totally understand each other because we have famous fathers, fathers who were musicians who got famous together for the right reasons: because they did really, really great work. And we know what that body of work means to the fans.”


In 2000, Betts left the Allman Brothers Band in a much-publicized split after reportedly being told by fax to “get clean.” The Allman Brothers continued touring for another 14 years but only released one more studio album. Betts also released another studio album of new material and toured with his Great Southern group, which would feature his son Duane sharing lead guitar duties with him. Dickey Betts decided to retire in 2014 following a hometown charity show here at Robarts Arena that took place shortly after the Allman Brothers Band’s final gig.

In January 2017, Butch Trucks died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A few months later, Gregg Allman died due to complications from liver cancer.

Gregg Allman kept his health problems private but Dickey Betts had been informed and recalls calling him quite a bit during those last months when Allman was frequently in and out of the hospital. Betts has praised Gregg as the best white blues singer and as having a “golden voice.” When they spoke, though, Betts couldn’t help but be saddened to hear that great voice reduced to a whisper.

“I was trying to make him feel good and tell him how much he was loved and respected,” Betts says. “I would just call and try to make his day a little better.”

Dickey and Duane Betts were with Devon Allman, Berry Oakley Jr. and many more members of the extended Allman Brothers family at Gregg Allman’s funeral in Macon, Georgia, where the Allman Brothers were based in the early 1970s. Former President Jimmy Carter, whose election the Allman Brothers Band boosted, attended the private ceremony along with Allman’s ex-wife Cher. Gregg Allman was buried near his brother, Duane, and bandmate Berry Oakley.

Betts told a reporter from Rolling Stone he was retired for a story that ran in November of 2017 but soon changed his mind. On his birthday, Dec., 12, 2017, after about a four-year hiatus from performing, Dickey Betts announced he would play select dates in 2018.

“Everywhere I go fans keep saying they want me to get out and play again,” Betts said at the time. “I think the time is right.”


The new Dickey Betts Band made its debut last May at White Buffalo Saloon a few miles from Betts’ home and in July played the historic St. George Theatre in New York City with the cameras rolling for the upcoming CD/DVD “Ramblin’ Man.”

“That was a really special night with a really cool kind of vibe,” Duane Betts says. “We were starting to really get into a groove and there was a great exchange between the crowd and the band and Dad. I’m real proud of my dad and the band. He hadn’t been playing for four years and so it was a challenge to get everyone in shape but we hit our stride there by the end of the run.”

And then there was the accident at the Betts home, followed by a huge outpouring of support from fans all over the world as Dickey went into surgery.

“I wasn’t worried about it too much; everybody else was, of course, but I was too loaded on Propofol there for about four or five days,” Betts says with a chuckle. “From that stroke, I was taking blood thinners so they had to put me in an induced coma. I was just in a dream world, thought I was in a cowboy movie, and when I came to I was just glad to be awake and see somebody.

“I didn’t know that I had so many friends that were praying for me and helping me,” Betts continues, now somber. “It made me feel good to still be alive. The fall was more serious than I had realized. It was pretty damn serious because they couldn’t stop the bleeding because of the blood thinners I was on after the stroke.”

During a New Year’s Eve show by the Devon Allman Project featuring Duane Betts with special guest Berry Oakley Jr. at the Grand Opera House in in Macon, Dickey Betts sat right in front of Oakley’s amplifier and took it all in. Then, after the clock struck midnight, Betts stepped onto the stage to play guitar on his revered instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” “It’s just such an honor and a privilege to be on stage with him,” says Devon, who makes a memorable appearance on the upcoming Dickey Betts Band CD/DVD.

“You know, Dickey was the first one to invite me onto the Allman Brothers’ stage,” Devon says. “He heard me sing backstage and was like, ‘Man, I didn’t know you had pipes like that.’ He was always very supportive and, yeah, the first one to invite me on the Allman Brothers stage, even before my dad, which was pretty mind-blowing.

“It’s an amazing thing to look over and see Dickey and to make music alongside one of your heroes. I certainly have heroes within the Allman Brothers but then heroes in many, many other bands. I’ve been lucky to play with Billy Gibbons and Charlie Daniels and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Les Paul but Dickey Betts, obviously, is the closest to home, so that’s an amazing feeling.”

While Dickey picks up the guitar occasionally, his only appearance on a public stage since the accident has been the one on New Year’s Eve. He has no concert dates booked for 2019.

“I want to do it because I miss what I call my friends, my fans, but on the other hand, I don’t think I put on the show I used to,” Betts says. “I’m told no one expects you to do what you did when you were younger but I don’t know. I guess there’s always a chance I’ll go back out.”

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