Dickey Betts on fronting the Allman Brothers Band: “I actually never wanted to be the leader, and neither did Duane”

The guitarist described the band’s approach to leadership back in the day.

Dickey Betts

Image: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty

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Dickey Betts has spoken about the power structure he and guitarist Duane Allman found themselves following in the Allman Brothers Band, noting his reluctance to become the band’s leader.

Betts, a founding member of the group, told Guitar Player Magazine: “I actually never wanted to be the leader, and neither did Duane. We were a pretty loose outfit, and didn’t have a real regimented hierarchy kind of thing. If one guy had a grudge or a problem with the rest of the guys, we’d get together and talk about it. That’s how we kept things together.”

The comments came after discussion of Duane Allman’s death, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971, only two years after the formation of the band. This meant Betts was left as the only guitarist in the band, and also meant he stepped up to more vocal duties. Dauntingly, Betts had to learn the slide parts Duane was famous for: “I’m not crazy about playing electric slide because of that,” he explains, “I did play some slide before Duane and I started working together but didn’t play very well. But after he got killed, I had to take over. Songs like Statesboro Blues and some of the others would have sounded silly without it.”

The interview touches on the rest of the Allman Brothers Band’s history, Betts’ recent live release Ramblin’ Man: Live at the St. George Theatre. It also covers Bett’s unique custom Les Paul / SG hybrid guitar, which features a double-cutaway similar to an SG, but the control layout of a Les Paul, Betts’ preferred configuration. The guitar can be seen in the below live video:

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