About The Night Zakk Wylde Filled In For Dickey Betts With Allman Brothers Band
On the morning of July 31, 1993 Allman Brothers Band co-founding guitarist Dickey Betts was arrested by local cops in Saratoga Springs, New York; where the band had performed the night before as part of the second annual H.O.R.D.E. Festival. Officers were responding to a call from Dickey’s wife saying he was drunk and abusive, when the guitarist decided to shove the policemen leading to his arrest.
ABB staffers bailed out Betts, but Dickey didn’t return to the band and instead flew home to Sarasota. Thanks to help from the likes of H.O.R.D.E. tour mates Jimmy Herring of ARU, Danny Louis of proto-Gov’t Mule act the Warren Haynes Band and Blues Traveler’s John Popper, the Allmans moved forward with their set on July 31, 1993 in Stowe, Vermont. However, the next night the Allman Brothers Band were playing their own show at Great Woods in Mansfield, Massachusetts and wouldn’t have the luxury of calling upon members of H.O.R.D.E. acts. Enter Zakk Wylde for one of the strangest nights in the legendary band’s 45-year history.
Zakk Wylde is a metal player best known for his long stints as lead guitarist in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Warren Haynes wanted former ABB keyboardist Chuck Leavell to play with the group at Great Woods. Haynes was told by management, “This is a guitar band. People want to hear the two guitars,” as per author Alan Paul’s definitive Allman Brothers Band biography One Way Out.
While Jack Pearson was the next choice, the Nashville axeman who would later replace Warren in the group had previous commitments. Austin guitarist David Grissom got a call, but wasn’t available in time for the Mansfield show. Wylde was the next option as an ABB staffer had worked with Ozzy and made the connection. Zakk played the whole night at Great Woods and his antics were so over the top and his sound was such a bad fit, Grissom filled in for the rest of the tour starting on August 3 in Columbia, Maryland.
Though Wylde had the time of his life, Alan Paul notes the band was not impressed by his antics such as “spitting mouthfuls of beer in the air and standing atop his front stage monitor.” Zakk told Paul the following about his one-and-done experience with the Allman Brothers Band for publication in One Way Out:
They were way fuckin’ cool, man. But it was hysterical, ’cause when we played “Dreams” I must have soloed for twenty minutes. I’d died and gone to heaven and I wasn’t going to stop. I was just jamming. But I almost gave [ABB drummer] Butch [Trucks] a coronary, ’cause every time we got to where the band was repeating the same lick, preparing to come out of the jam, I just keep soloing. I came over to Butch and he goes, “Zakk, fuck, man! Calm down a little bit, brother.” And I go, “But this is my favorite band.” And he goes, “Yeah, it’s mine, too, but just fuckin’ relax!”
Though Wylde didn’t win himself fans among the Allman Brothers Band crew and band, a recording of the show is well worth hearing for Zakk’s wild approach to the group’s music. “Dreams” isn’t quite 20 minutes, but it’s long and a good example of what the guitarist brought to the table as are the versions of “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post” from a one Wylde night.
Here’s full show audio shared by Master Eddie:
Check out “Whipping Post” if you just want a taste of Zakk’s contributions:
Set: Statesboro Blues, Stormy Monday, All Night Train, You Don’t Love Me, Temptation Is A Gun, Dreams, Midnight Rider (Acoustic), Melissa (Acoustic), Southbound, What’s Done Is Done, The Same Thing, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Whipping Post, Just Before the Bullets Fly, One Way Out