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Watch Dickey Betts Play ‘Ramblin’ Man’ at Final Live Appearance in 2018

Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts died Thursday morning after a battle with cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch was at his home in Osprey, Florida, surrounded by his family,” his family said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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.”

Betts was never a household name, but rock aficionados were aware of his massive contributions to the Allman Brothers song catalog. Not only did he write and sing their 1973 classic “Ramblin’ Man,” which was their only song to ever hit the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100, but he also penned “Blue Sky,” “Jessica,” and many other beloved tunes. As a guitarist, he melded seamlessly with Duane Allman on their early work, and eventually with latter-day members Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.

The band parted ways with Betts in 2000 after years of backstage turbulence. They initially claimed it was a temporary situation brought on by his heavy drinking. “He would say, ‘I need to go get myself straight,’ and that’s what he would do,” Allman Brothers Band drummer Jaimoe told Rolling Stone in 2017. “This time he didn’t do it. He didn’t get fired. He quit.”

Betts said his departure from the group was actually “a whole clandestine business thing” caused by a financial audit of the band he requested from Bert Holman, the band’s manager. Holman denied this. Whatever the case, Betts never played with the Allman Brothers Band again after 2000. He did tour heavily with his group Great Southern, which eventually morphed into the Dickey Betts Band. They played sets centered around songs Betts wrote in the Allman Brothers along with a handful of solo tunes.

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The last tour took place in the summer of 2018, wrapping up at the Peach Music Festival in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on July 22, 2018. The show closed out with “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica,” which you can see right here via fan-shot video. The final “Jessica” guitar solo stretches out for several minutes in a final bit of glory for Betts, who walked offstage alongside his son, guitarist Duane Betts. Over the past few years, Duane Betts and Devon Allman, son of Gregg Allman, have kept the vibe of the Allman Brothers Band alive with their group the Allman Betts Band.

In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Devon Allman revealed that his father Gregg finally made peace with Dickey shortly before his death in 2017. “Dickey has always been down for me and loved me,” he said. “I do know that before my dad passed, he and Dickey had a conversation that really meant the world to my dad, and they were cool. Everybody likes to kind of magnify the drama. But at the end of the day, we’re all dudes playing music, and there’s nothing but love at the core of that.”

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