Dickey Betts Talks Allman Brothers Band, Retirement & More In New Interview
It would be hard to believe 10 years ago that Dickey Betts would be the last man standing among him, Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks. Yet, the 73-year-old Betts has outlived two of the other men who helped form the legendary Allman Brothers Band. Dickey doesn’t give many interviews, but participated in quite a chat with Rolling Stone’s David Browne.
Dickey admits to Browne he is retired, “It’s a little bit of burnout, a little sour grapes, a little bit like a boxer who gives it up. It’s pretty tough, to tell you the truth. Everyone wishes they could be young forever. But I feel like I did my work, and I’m not gonna do anything that’s gonna top what I’m known for. So why don’t you just stay home?” Betts also discussed Gregg’s leadership qualities, “I have all the respect for Gregg Allman. He was a leader when it came to talent. Duh! But he was never the leader-type personality.”
Betts parted ways with the ABB in 2000 but whether he was fired or quit is up for debate. Jaimoe told RS of Dickey’s response to a letter from the drummer, Gregg and Butch, “He would say, ‘I need to go get myself straight,’ and that’s what he would do. This time he didn’t do it. He didn’t get fired. He quit.” Betts feels differently:
Betts disagrees, saying he was kicked out thanks to “a whole clandestine business thing” that stemmed from the moment he asked manager Bert Holman for an audit of their finances. “Big fuckin’ mistake on my part,” Betts says. (Holman says he has no recollection of that request.) Whatever the case, Betts was awarded an undisclosed financial settlement and his walking papers. Betts neglects to discuss that period in detail (“I don’t want to say anything bad about Gregg”), but he speculates that without all the dysfunction, the Allmans might have gotten even more popular – as revered as the Grateful Dead. “After Jerry [Garcia] passed away, we were right in the position to move into that next-step thing,” he says. “But everyone was fucking my band up. Gregg wanted horns. And it was just so crazy.”
The famed guitarist also confirmed he was asked to sit-in on three songs in 2009, but decided to pass much to the relief of some:
During their 40th-anniversary run in New York in 2009, Betts was presented with an opportunity to rejoin. Newer members Haynes and guitarist Derek Trucks had made the case he should be invited. But he felt the invitation was halfhearted – just three songs, at the last minute. “On one level, we were disappointed,” says Holman. “On another, we were relieved. It was going to be a tense moment.”
Another topic discussed with Dickey’s relationship with Gregg. Betts said, “That whole idea about me and Gregg not liking each other was bullshit. I liked the old fucker!” The guitarist revealed the two had talked about heading out on tour together, but Gregg’s declining health prevented such a run. Dickey also revealed the pair made their amends ahead of Allman’s death.
Head to Rolling Stone for much more from Dickey Betts and others including Warren Haynes’ thoughts on the guitarist and how Cameron Crowe based a major character in Almost Famous on Dickey.