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Dickey Betts Fires Back at Allman Brothers

Allman Bros. guitarist responds to summer dismissal

May 23, 2000 12:00 AM ET

Dickey Betts is not taking his suspension from the Allman Brothers lying down. On May 20 Betts fired off a missive to the Allman Brothers official Web site www.allmanbrothersband.com, explaining the content of the infamous fax sent to him last week telling him his services would no longer be needed: "Last Thursday I received a fax notifying me that I would not be performing this summer with ABB. It said, 'You have not been performing well and our shows have been repeatedly disappointing to both us and our fans as a result.' The implication was that I was suffering from some sort of health or drug problem. THIS IS TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY, UNFOUNDED!" wrote the guitarist.

Immediately after receiving the fax, the grizzled fifty-six-year-old picker called up fellow founding member Gregg Allman for an explanation. "His response was 'If you don't know, I can't tell you -- listen to the fucking tapes.' After nine days, I have still not received as much as a phone call from Butch, Gregg or Jaimoe. I have been in a state of shock and bewilderment and have been trying to make some sense out of all of this. I sat down and listened to the tapes from the Beacon and the last tour and was impressed with the quality of the music. I thought the band sounded great and I was particularly proud of my guitar work. There was never any discussion or indication that there was any problem in the band. Therefore, I am as hurt and shocked as all of you! I certainly don't have any answers, but I feel an obligation to share with all of you what I know about this."

On the same day, ABB drummer Butch Trucks added his thoughts, asserting his belief that the rift is not a permanent split: "Ain't no way we can fire Dickey. We will be doing the summer tour without him. I will not get into the details. I will not comment further about what is going on with Dickey. Do any of you remember a summer a few years ago when we had to tour without him?" Trucks asked, referring to Betts' well-publicized bout with drugs and alcohol, which landed him in a Florida rehab center in 1994.

In an interview with their hometown newspaper, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Betts' wife Donna echoed her husband's sentiments about his involuntary sabbatical, explaining, "They're intimating that there's a drug problem, but it just ain't happening. It certainly is not drug- or alcohol-related."

Allman Brothers manager Bert Hollman declined to offer to comment.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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