Allman Brothers Band Guitarist Dickey Betts, Who Wrote ‘Ramblin’ Man’, Dead At 80

American rock and blues group The Allman Brothers Band perform onstage, Chicago, Illinois, May 24, 1979. Pictured is guitarist Dickey Betts.
Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Famed Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts, responsible for writing the group’s biggest hit, “Ramblin’ Man,” died Thursday at his home in Osprey, Florida. He was 80.

Betts’ manager David Spero said that the rocker died from cancer and a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, The New York Times reported.

“He was surrounded by his whole family and he passed peacefully,” Spero told Yahoo.com. “They didn’t think he was in any pain.”

An Instagram post on his account said: “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,” the message added. “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 never an actual sibling of the Allman brothers, Duane and Gregg Allman, the singer and songwriter helped co-found the band and define the Southern Rock genre, the New York Post noted.

In a 1981 interview, Betts talked about sharing guitar duties with Duane.

“It was hard not to try and have just this complete contest all the time, trying to outdo, because we were both playing lead,” Betts said. “The only way that can work is if somebody lays back just a little bit.”


“If I had that jealousy and got involved in it too much,” he added, “it just wouldn’t have worked. So in that sense it was kind of hard. But, hell, I learned more through those years than probably any other period of my playing career.”

He shared those lead duties with Duane until he died in a motorcycle accident in 1971. 

Before the band split up in 1976, Betts released several solo albums, including 1974’s “Highway Call” and 1976’s “Dickey Betts & Great Southern.”

In 1995, Betts and The Allman Brothers Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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