‘Allman Brothers’ Rock Legend Dickey Betts Dead at 80

Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Dickey Betts—guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the Allman Brothers Band—died on Thursday at the age of 80.

Betts died surrounded by family in his home in Osprey, Florida, according to a statement from his family.

According to his manager David Spero, the cause of death was cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is commonly caused by smoking.

Betts was one of the founders of the legendary rock band, which influenced Southern music throughout the ’70s. He was a talented songwriter, responsible for the band’s most successful song, the 1973 hit, “Ramblin’ Man,” according to Rolling Stone. He also wrote “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Blue Sky.”

Betts was also an extremely gifted guitar player, with his own distinct style of playing that borrowed from country and bluegrass music, and essential to the band’s iconic dueling guitar sound.

While he was initially a co-lead guitarist, Betts became the leader of the group after Duane Allman’s death in 1971. The group parted briefly in the mid-’70s amid issues related to Gregg Alman’s drug use, but then came back together for a revival in the 1990s.

In 2000, Betts parted ways with the Allman Brothers band. Betts said he’d received a “confusing” fax from the group, urging him to “seek treatment,” but he contended that he hadn’t been into drugs for a while. At the time, the band released a statement saying he’d been replaced due to “creative differences.”

In 2017, Betts reflected on his career to Rolling Stone. “I’ve had a great life and I don’t have any complaints,” he said. “If I could do it again, I don’t know what I could do to make it different. There are lawsuits I probably could have dealt with better. But so what? You have to get in there and fight and do the best with your amount of time.”

“Dickey was larger-than-life, and his loss will be felt worldwide,” said the statement from his family.

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