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The Ramblin' Man is Still One of My Favorites

Posted: Dec 19, 2006

Many thanks to everyone all over the world who sent e-mails, cards, flowers and made calls of condolence regarding my Father. It meant the world to me and my family.

I was sitting around today thinking about the first time I ever met recent birthday boy Dickey Betts. It was at Charlie Daniels’ annual Angelus benefit down in Tampa, Florida. Must have been five years ago. At the pairing party (where they announce which star will be special guest for each golf team), Dickey showed up dressed like a gangster, with a sharp suit and wing tips, his haired slicked back like Robert DiNiro. During the cocktail party disguised as a pairing party, Dickey joined Bruce Brown from The Charlie Daniels Band and Bonnie Bramlett and played an eclectic mix of tunes, including “Come On In To My Kitchen,” and an apt cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.” It was pretty great.

Dickey and The Buffalo.

I had interviewed Dickey once on the phone, but I was still a little nervous about meeting him face to face. Still, it was a fun meeting, with my buddy Bonnie there to help break any ice that might be forming. Dickey was a true gentleman. Bonnie always says, “Dickey is two people. A cowboy and an indian.” I lucked out and got the indian that night. Fact is, I have yet to stumble upon the cowboy. I’m just lucky, I suppose.

In the near future, I would sit and speak with Dickey on several occasions, including a really nice conversation on his tour bus in Charlotte, when me and my buddy Scott were up for the Great Southern show. We spent some quality time with Dangerous Dan Toler, and later, Dickey.

I have been a fan of Betts since 1972, but he really won me over with his country-fried LP Highway Call in 1973, and the Brothers and Sisters record the Brothers put out around the same time. I loved it all, but especially “Pony Boy” from the Allmans record and “Rain” from the solo album.

I have so many great Dickey Betts memories, and each one is special in it’s own way. I still believe the early 1990’s Allman lineup with Dickey, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody was simply one of the hottest versions ever of the band. I saw that lineup several times, including two nights in a row, one here in Greenville, and the next night in Charlotte. Blues Traveler, at that time a relatively new band, opened both shows. The only set difference was Greenville featured “Dreams” and Charlotte had “Ramblin’ Man.” What an amazing pair of shows.

When we did the GRITZ print magazine, the first issue featured a Betts cover story, and one of the most fun interviews I had ever had the pleasure of conducting. This evening I pulled out Highway Call and Brothers and Sisters. They are playing in the office as I type this. Two timeless records that epitomize my idea of true Southern rock at it’s finest. Dickey Betts, as always, keeping it real and keeping it Southern to the core.


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