Friday, February 11, 2011

Dickey Betts

Forrest Richard "Dickey" Betts (born December 12, 1943) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and composer best known as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. He was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and also won with the band a best rock performance Grammy Award for his instrumental "Jessica" in 1996. Recognized as "one of the most influential guitar players of all time", he had early on in his career one of rock’s finest guitar partnerships with the late Duane Allman introducing melodic twin guitar harmony and counterpoint which "rewrote the rules for how two rock guitarists can work together, completely scrapping the traditional rhythm/lead roles to stand toe to toe". Dickey Betts was ranked #58 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003.

Born in Bradenton, Florida, Betts's early experience was leading a band called The Second Coming. He and other Florida area musicians met, jammed, and formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Betts was a lead guitarist, alongside Duane Allman, and contributed significantly to their trademark dual lead guitar sound. His melodic, country-esque lead guitar style contrasted perfectly with Duane's fiery, blues/jazz-based style. He also wrote songs including "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Blue Sky" that became radio and concert staples.

After the death of Duane Allman in late 1971, Betts became the band's sole guitarist and also took on a greater singing and leadership role. He went on to write such Southern Rock classics as "Jessica" and the Allmans' biggest commercial hit, "Ramblin' Man".

Jessica was inspired by his daughter, Jessica Betts, born on May 14, 1972 to Betts' first wife, Sandy Bluesky Wabegijig, a Native American whom Betts married in 1973. The pair was divorced in 1975 and Betts married Paulette, a close friend and personal assistant of singer and actress Cher.

Betts's first solo album, Highway Call, was released in 1974, and featured the late fiddle player Vassar Clements. After the Allmans fell apart in 1976, Betts released more albums, starting with Dickey Betts & Great Southern in 1977, which featured the hit "Bougainvillea", co-written with future Hollywood star Don Johnson. In 1978 he released an album entitled Atlanta's Burning Down.

The Allman Brothers reformed in 1979 for the album Enlightened Rogues with a new guitar player (Dan Toler) and bassist (David Goldflies). Several albums would follow in the 80s with various personnel changes. The reunion brought Betts back together with founding Allman Brothers members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jai "Jaimoe" Johanny Johanson. The band was augmented in the late 80s by Warren Haynes as slide guitarist and lead guitarist, Allen Woody on bass and Johnny Neel on keyboards, (though Neel left after several tours). This band lineup went on to release three acclaimed studio albums with Betts, Allman and Haynes serving as the primary songwriters, as well as several popular live albums throughout the early 1990s.

Attendance issues and temporary bandmates

Betts was replaced on numerous tour dates throughout the mid- 90s for what were reported in the media as "personal reasons". While The Allman Brothers Band continued to play acclaimed live shows during the 1990s, they failed to release an album of new material following 1994's Where It All Begins. Haynes and Woody formed Gov't Mule with drummer Matt Abts (formerly of Dickey Betts solo projects) as a side project in 1994 and left the Allman Brothers for Gov't Mule full-time following the ABB's annual Beacon Run in March 1997. Haynes and Woody did not associate with the Allman Brothers Band on stage again until after Betts' departure in 2000, though they shared the stage with Gregg Allman on several occasions with Gov't Mule.

The remaining original members, Allman, Trucks and Jaimoe, suspended Betts (reportedly via fax)[citation needed] prior to the launch of the band's Summer Campaign Tour 2000. Betts was temporarily replaced for that tour by Jimmy Herring, formerly of the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Warren Haynes also appeared with the Allmans at three shows after Betts' suspension for the first time in over three years.

Betts quickly filed suit against the other three original Allmans and the separation turned into a permanent divorce. Betts also formed the Dickey Betts Band in 2000 and toured that summer. Haynes permanently replaced him following a stand with the band at the Beacon Theatre in March 2001. Betts tours once again under the name Dickey Betts & Great Southern, and added his son and since Allman Brothers collaborator Duane Betts (named after Duane Allman) on lead guitar.

In 2005 Betts released the DVD "Live from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".

December 17, 2009 it was announced that in New York City, a place where Dickey Betts had had many great achievements, he played what will possibly become his last touring date on his 66th birthday.

"I’m not retiring from playing. I’m sure there will be some great special events that I’ll be at in the future. But for now, I look forward to waking up tomorrow with nothing on my schedule."

The style of Betts' first name (actually his middle name, as his actual first name is Forrest) varied throughout the years:

1969: "Dick Betts" in the jacket of The Allman Brothers Band self-titled album.
1970-72: "Dicky Betts" in the jackets of Idlewild South and Eat A Peach.
1973-74: "Richard Betts" on Brothers and Sisters and his first solo album, Highway Call.
Afterward: "Dickey Betts."

In the early days of the Allman Brothers, Betts played a 1961 Gibson SG, given to Duane Allman in 1971 to use as an all-slide guitar. He then used a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, calling it "Goldie". He has recently painted it red. Early on in the Allman Brothers days he occasionally played a Fender Stratocaster , and has been an on-and-off endorser and player of PRS guitars. As of April 2009, Betts is using a red Fender Telecaster with a pearloid pickguard. Betts can also be seen playing a Cherry Red 1961 Gibson ES-335.[7]


Solo Albums

Highway Call (1974)(Richard Betts)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern (1977) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Atlanta's Burning Down (1978) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Night (Unreleased Country Album) (1982) (Dickey Betts)
Pattern Disruptive (1989) (Dickey Betts Band)
Let's Get Together (2001) (Dickey Betts Band)
The Collectors #1 (2002) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum (DVD) (2005) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
The Official Bootleg (Live) (2006) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern - Rockpalast: 30 Years Of Southern Rock, 1978 - 2008 (DVD)

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