When Dickey Betts Made a Surprise Appearance in 2018

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Father and son, performing at the Grand Opera House in Macon, Dec. 31, 2018 (Photo: © Gilbert Lee; used with permission)

Dickey Betts turned 75 on December 12, 2018, while still recuperating from successful brain surgery he had three months earlier on Sept. 21 at an undisclosed hospital in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla. The operation came in the aftermath of a stroke and dangerous fall at his home.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that the former Allman Brothers Band guitarist would celebrate his birthday “surrounded by loved ones” at his Little Sarasota Bay home.”

But by New Year’s Eve, Betts was tired of sitting around. He celebrated his recovery by ringing in 2019 with (the group that has subsequently been named) the Allman Betts Band at the Grand Opera House in Macon, Ga. The musician enjoyed the performance from the wings of the stage and then came on to play on the Allman Brothers Band classic “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” with the band featuring his son Duane, the late Gregg Allman’s son Devon and Berry Oakley Jr., the son of the founding ABB bassist.

Alas, no YouTube clip of the performance appears to be available.

Listen to Betts perform the song earlier that year, several months before his injury

Watch Betts perform in Macon during that 2018 comeback tour

Related: Our interview with Dickey’s son Duane and Gregg Allman’s son, Devon

In an interview with AXS TV, the legend discussed what drove him to return to performing after hanging up his guitar in 2014. He explained, “I missed it. I just done it so long… I really started missing being on the road and, you know, getting out and doing things like this. Meeting people.” He likened his return to that of another legend, who enjoyed success after a brief hiatus, saying, “I feel kinda like Tiger Woods coming back. [After] four-and-a-half years, I’m really trying to play par, ya know. I don’t think you ever quite feel like you’re there, but I’m getting’ better at it.”

The news of Betts’ September 2018 surgery was relayed by his longtime manager, David Spero, in a statement to the Herald-Tribune: “Dickey Betts and his family want everyone to know that his surgery was a success.”

The Allman Brothers Band founding member was reportedly in critical condition following a fall on Sept. 17, at his home. It was said that the guitarist fell while playing with the family dog in his backyard and “cracked his head, causing bleeding in his brain.” At the time, Betts was listed as in “critical but stable condition.”

Spero’s Sept. 21 statement added, “The outpouring of support from all over the world has been overwhelming and amazing. We are so appreciative. Thank you all so much for your wonderful thoughts and prayers. We will keep you updated.

“Hey Dickey fans, your thoughts and prayers helped make this surgery a success.”

Duane Betts posted a photo of father and son on Nov. 16, 2020 (Photo: Donna Betts)

On Sept. 25, the Allman Brothers Band posted an update from Spero on the band’s Facebook page: “[Betts’ wife] Donna just texted me that Dickey is ‘Off the respirator and doing great! Talking, laughing and, of course, complaining!’ We thank you all for your love and prayers. He still has a ways to go.”

On Sept. 22, Duane Betts wrote on his Facebook page, “So grateful today. My father has always been my hero, my mentor and my favorite guitar player in the world. I want to say thank you to all of you who have sent messages, prayed and sent good energy to my family and my dad. 🙏🏼 ”

It’s not known whether the fall had anything to do with the stroke that Betts suffered the previous month that caused him to cancel several concerts. The guitarist had come out of retirement last year. On Sept. 14, the musician’s Facebook page noted he is “raring to go” following the “minor stroke” he suffered in late August of 2018. “His recovery from his minor stroke is ahead of schedule and he has already started playing his guitar again,” the post said

The original news of his stroke came last Aug. 24: “After describing to his physicians certain post-stroke repercussions, he was strongly advised to give himself more time to recuperate. Doctors have assured Betts that after three to five weeks he will be 100 percent recovered and can resume his touring schedule.”

Watch Betts perform an Allman Brothers Band favorite in July 2018

As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Betts wrote such classic rock favorites as “Jessica,” “Ramblin’ Man” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Betts was born December 12, 1943 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Duane Betts shared another picture with his father on Christmas Eve 2021.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Duane Betts (@duanebetts)

Best Classic Bands Staff

5 Comments so far

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  1. Columbo
    #1 Columbo 24 September, 2018, 10:50

    Play on.. Love you brother,

    Reply this comment
  2. Mardifleur
    #2 Mardifleur 26 September, 2018, 09:22

    Many congratulations on the successful surgery snd wishing Mr.Betts a full and fast recovery..Best of everything to his family,loved ones and fans…..!

    Reply this comment
  3. Crush
    #3 Crush 19 February, 2019, 12:13

    Dickey always a tough hombre. No surprise he is back. Hope to see him again soon….and gotta check the offspring band.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bluzrider
    #4 Bluzrider 13 December, 2020, 07:47

    Dickey is one of the greats, When the Allman Brothers first came on the seen, that first album had me hooked. They became one of my all time favorites.

    It was Dickey’s song, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” along with “Whipping Post” that did it for me.

    Looking forward to seeing their kids play live, just as soon as this crazy Pandemic is over.

    You would have to look real hard to find a better group of musicians than the Allman Brothers. They just flat out the best band that America had to offer at the time.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bradford
    #5 Bradford 30 August, 2022, 19:28

    Yes Dickey you are something special
    You are up there with the ranks of Keith Richards. Now I do not know how you guys wrote and played your history music so high but if that is what getting high induces maybe we should all be high
    Been a fan since the band started
    And you are still in it to win it peace my friend

    Reply this comment

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