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.
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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.