Dickey Betts dead: Guitarist, singer-songwriter of Allman Brothers Band dies aged 80 after cancer battle

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Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts has died aged 80

Dickey Betts, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist as well as a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band died at the age of 80 following a cancer battle. Announcing his death on Instagram, his family said he died on Thursday morning (April 18) surrounded by his loved ones.

His cause of death was cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Betts’ manager David Spero told Rolling Stone. The statement read: “It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard ‘Dickey’ Betts (December 12, 1943 – April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old. The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch passed away earlier today at his home in Osprey, FL., surrounded by his family.

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“Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide. At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

While bandmates Gregg and Duane Allman often stole the spotlight due to their name association with the band, Dickey Betts played an equally crucial role. Betts' distinctive guitar style, infused with Western swing and jazz influences, enriched the Allman Brothers' sound, particularly when collaborating with Duane.

As a vocalist and songwriter, Betts contributed significantly to the band's success with hits like the 1973 chart-topper “Ramblin’ Man” and iconic tracks such as the atmospheric “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” later hit “Crazy Love” and the instantly recognisable “Jessica” used as the theme tune to motoring show Top Gear.

Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts has died aged 80Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts has died aged 80
Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts has died aged 80

Betts' iconic look, complete with his distinctive moustache and confident aura, was so influential that it inspired the character Russell, portrayed by Billy Crudup, in Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous.

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Born Forrest Richard Betts on December 12, 1943, in West Palm Beach in Florida, Betts' musical journey began early with the ukulele, later progressing to the banjo and mandolin. By seventh grade, he had discovered his passion for girls and rock & roll, citing Chuck Berry as an early influence. As a young adult, Betts formed his own band while juggling jobs as a house painter and mail carrier.

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