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Dickey Betts: 15 Essential Allman Brothers Band Songs

From “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” to “Ramblin’ Man,” the guitarist, songwriter, and sometime singer’s most memorable moments with the Southern-rock group

After the death of slide-guitar savant Duane Allman in 1971, many expected the Allman Brothers Band to fold up shop and call it quits.  But the five remaining members decided to soldier on in the face of incomprehensible tragedy. In Duane’s absence, it fell to the group’s other guitar player, Dickey Betts — a country-loving hothead from West Palm Beach, Florida — to pick up the titanic amounts of slack left by their indelible departed leader. Betts, who died Thursday at 80, responded to the challenge better than anyone could have imagined.

“When my brother died, Dickey really stepped up,” Gregg Allman wrote in his autobiography My Cross to Bear. “He wood-shedded like crazy … every day, he wrote. At three o’clock every afternoon, he’d sit down and write.” Just four months after Duane’s death, the band released Eat a Peach, which remains to this day, their most commercially successful studio album to date. A year later, they would score the highest-selling single of their career, “Ramblin’ Man,” which hit Number Two. The singer and writer behind that particular success? Dickey Betts.

Perhaps because his last name isn’t featured in the literal name of the group he helped make iconic, some of Betts’ contributions to their genre-defining canon have become obscured over the years. But make no mistake, the Allman Brothers Band would never have reached the lofty heights they did — millions of albums sold, private jets, legendary concerts, and eventual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status — without his pen and his guitar. Here are some of Betts’ best songs.

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