RIP DICKEY BETTS

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RIP Dickey Betts – not sure what to say. Such a huge loss. Not only for our musical family, but for the world of music in general. Aside from being a huge, major influence on my music from before I picked up a guitar, Dickey was the one person I credit for everything amazing that happened in my career. As I have stated many times, I was a huge Allman Brothers fan from the very beginning. My oldest brother had the first album in 1969 and it got a ton of play around our house. By the time the Live at Fillmore East record came out in 1971, I was just starting to play guitar and that was with without question the album that influenced me and all my young guitar playing friends the most. We would all listen to it for hours on end, day in and day out. It was a moment in time. What a beautiful gift to up and coming guitar players who might want to  travel down that road of improvisation and melding influences. The way he and Duane Allman played together was a thing of beauty and glory. Dickey’s style was a combination of all his diverse influences filtered through his personality and what came out was a joyous sound that would directly or indirectly influence all related music to come. His songs like Blue Sky, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and his masterpiece Jessica will live on forever. Listening as a kid I had no idea that one day our paths would cross and that he would become a mentor to me. In addition to being the huge influence and inspiration that he had been for years, he was also a presence that loomed larger than life. I started playing with the Dickey Betts Band around 1986 and when he recruited me to be the other guitar player and the slide guitar player in his band, it was the ultimate compliment. I’ll never forget speaking to him on the phone when he called to offer me the job. It was one of those “pinch me” moments in my life, but I had no way of knowing what a heavy moment it would prove to be. After playing in Dickey’s band for 2 1/2 years, I got the call to join my favorite band of all time, The Allman Brothers Band. No one knew at that time that they were considering reforming, so it came as a shock to me. We all signed on to do what we thought was only gonna be a reunion tour for the band’s 20th anniversary to support the Dreams box set. Not myself or anyone else ever imagined that it would turn into what it did and I wound up spending 25 years of my life life as a member of my favorite band. As I’ve also said many times, when I think of the Allman Brothers Band, I automatically think of the original band with Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, who unfortunately passed way too soon, and although I’m extremely proud of my work with the band, that will always be the case. Dickey  Betts and I created a lot of great music together and what I took from him was a major contribution in my life. It did not take long once I joined his band to realize, standing next to him with that beautiful tone, that I had a lot to work on, both with my tone and with my style. It was amazingly intimidating to stand there night after night realizing how far I had to go. He threw me in the lake and I had to learn to swim. I am forever grateful for that “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Thanks Dickey.-WH

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