I don't understand Dicky Betts' Greatness

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by jwb1231970, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. jwb1231970

    jwb1231970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My reason for the OP was, as stated, I hear people like Red Dog say Dickey was possibly greater than Duane. He always comes up in the lists as well (not that those have to have any meaning)...I'm a guitar player, musician, and just wanted other perspectives on what it is they hear in him that elevates. No troll intended, he's obviously a very good player and I'm a fan. Now I see others may be taking it a bit too far as far as the posts go.
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  2. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    I don't believe you. You claim to have listened extensively to his playing, so why would it make any difference how many examples I cited? You clearly have made up your mind - if you really had any real interest in reconsidering, you already have the evidence. I don't really care whether you like his playing or not and I would not waste time posting examples trying to futilely get you to hear what I hear.

    But I do find it very annoying when people claim their personal taste as the worth of art and artists. I find that to be a very arrogant attitude and dismissive of others.
    highway likes this.
  3. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    You took the words out of my mouth. In this example, as in that of Dickey Betts, they clearly have great mastery and control of their instrument and the music they make. If you don't like what comes out, that's a reflection of you, not of them. I guess I somewhat understand why some people don't get the distinction, but the answer makes me disappointed in human nature.
    VinylRob and davmar77 like this.
  4. Larry Mc

    Larry Mc Forum Dude

    I think he's underrated. :)
  5. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    I agree. there's lots of bands out there I never listen who have great players. I'm not a pink Floyd fan but I can appreciate david Gilmour for example. there's lots like that for everyone. I've recently gained a new appreciation for betts during the duane era after listening extensively to the fillmore east box. for years duane was the spotlight but there's so much great betts stuff in there that can't be denied.
  6. Say It Right

    Say It Right Forum Resident

    Niagara Falls
    I understand it better than Warren Haynes's presumed greatness.
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  7. jwb1231970

    jwb1231970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I do agree he has great control, he plays lots of notes in those instrumentals and it's not just typical blues riffs, it's actually melodic pieces that he's worked out and yet no mistakes, not a bum note in there when playing live. That is tougher than wailing on old blues riffs forever.
    bzfgt and ian christopher like this.
  8. reeler

    reeler Forum Resident

    I don't understand a lot of things but Dicky Betts is'nt one of 'em.
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  9. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    If nothing else, this thread got me to go back and listen to my small Allman Bros. collection, and I'm in love all over again with the band. Duane and Dickey are both fantastic, and like two pistons in a huge engine. I just heard Dickey's solo in "One Way Out" from Fillmore East, and I'm left breathless - what great tone and phrasing! It's just one of his several gems on that album.

    I like Duane and Dickey about equally. Duane gets wild and unhinged, though is timing and pitch can be suspect. Dickey is more melodic and precise, more "thoughtful", maybe. They compliment each other perfectly. Actually, Dickey is more like what I personally aspire to as a player, but that's my taste speaking. It would be really stupid of me to disparage Duane because of that.
  10. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    give another listen to betts' solo spot in you don't love me. really great. and he really was a better writer.
  11. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    IIRC, I suggested listening to his solo in Blue Sky in response to you. Dickey's solo starts at 2:39.
    The solo is a brilliant example of how Dickey can take short melodic ides and morph them into variations by using changes in rhythm, voicing and such.

    Some specifics-

    2:49-3:00 a terrific example of his use of rhythmic displacement.
    3:15-3:21 you are a sax player from what I gather. You don't think those legato slurs at the end of each line are great?
    3:30-3:33 listen to the use of legato and downward slides in that descending line.
    3:40-3:50...is plain amazing the way he changes up the melodic line thru part repetition and voicings changes and rhythmic displacement
    3:50 onward...listen how he expands the little melodic idea and then thru repetition he sets up the listener for the conclusion of his solo by a stricter following of the chord changes

    The guy is a brilliant player and composer. I could list so many examples. I think you should learn his solo on Blue Sky note for note. I think then you might think he is worthy of all the praise he gets.

    Is it "sophisticated"? Not really it is just mostly hexatonic and pentatonic scales with some vertical chord tone stuff thrown in. However, is his sense of melody and phrasing creative? You bet.

    Listen to Dickey's modal and jazz work on In Memory of Elizabeth Reed studio and even more so on the live versions. I think in time you will learn to appreciate his greatness more.

    Of course I may be a little biased.......:D;)
    The Allman Brothers Band Album by Album Thread
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
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  12. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    I have heard these before many times (I'm a fan of the albums), but I promise I will listen to the passages as freshly as is possible and get back to you with my reassessment.
  13. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    Okay, I just listened to Blue Skies again (I actually had played through the entire album on Tuesday!).

    I'm listening to his melodic landscape. Betts really stays within a limited scale and not straying outside of it. He's not stretching the boundaries, or going to surprising places. His phrasing is just mirroring the syncopation laid down by the rhythm section. He's not really playing off them too much. Then there are the riffs, the arpeggiated figures that he merely doubles in an overdub. I'm sorry, there's just not a lot to hang my ear on here. It's pleasant playing, but nothing earth-shaking.

    I'll recheck out "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed", both the Fillmore East live version and the original studio version.

    Again, I go back to his strengths as a songwriter and even a good singer for the less soulful songs for the ABB. "Sail Away" from Enchanted Rogues is a gorgeous song and a great way to close that album. To me, he is an adequate guitarist, but a really good songwriter.
    Rose River Bear likes this.
  14. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Mobile, AL USA
    "After playing his second show with the Dominos the next night in Syracuse, New York, Eric approached Duane about his offer. “I said, ‘You know, we really need you in the band now—I don’t really want to go on as a quartet. Would you join us?’ He said, ‘I don’t think I can do that,’ and at that point, he went straight back to the Allman Brothers.”

    Joe Dan Petty picked up Duane at the airport, and he strutted up, pulled out a roll of bills, and said, “JD! I got Big Daddy bucks!” Once they were in the car, Duane said, “I’ll tell you one thing, Clapton’s got nothing on Dickey Betts.”"

    from "Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman" by Galadrielle Allman
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  15. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Try the live version of Blue Sky from the SUNY Stonybrook concert. Dickey stretches out there more than on the studio version with some jazzy lines and double stops and so forth.
    ARK likes this.
  16. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    I listened to the studio of "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed." Again, I found Duane and Gregg's solos more arresting, with more variety of phrasing.

    BUT....here is a clip of Dickey and his son demonstrating the head of the tune as well as a couple of other riffs. He shows a tastefulness, a tunefulness of phrasing that, to me, he doesn't show when he's merely improvising. Playing the head of the tune, listen to the small embellishments. THAT is very lyrical.

    And there is no doubt, it's a lovely tune, so there's a musician in his brain. But you can also hear where he has written out some of the those solos and incorporates those double arpeggios with his son.
    D.B. likes this.
  17. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    I just watched this version. It's the Tedeschi-Trucks Band with Betts as a guest. Again, I'm listening to Derek Trucks' solo. He is using the whole fretboard. He is varying the phrasing a lot. He's using single note melodic runs. He's using double-stops and full chords. After the organ solo comes Betts's solo. He's not using dynamics. It's full tone. It's all sustained single notes. There's little variation in using fast runs, short runs, spaces between notes, the whole fretboard. To me, there's kind of a plodding quality, and I hear that in almost all of his solos. You finally hear him going into a familiar riff which he does.

    So when he sits and thinks about melody and harmony, I think there's something special there. But perhaps it's that he's just not a good improviser. But I just don't hear him as an outstanding guitarist. I think he's okay, and I'm sure there's a good musician in there. If I had a band, I wouldn't make him my lead guitarist, but I'd have him as my vocalist and 2nd guitarist. He can play rhythm well and, again, he's clearly a really good songwriter.

    jwb1231970 likes this.
  18. lucan_g

    lucan_g Forum Resident

    Can you honestly say you'd make Dylan lead and Dickey second guitarist?
  19. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Salem, MA
    Different. Dylan is an outstanding acoustic guitarist. Electric lead is not his thing.
  20. Randy Tater

    Randy Tater Active Member


    I know that what I think of a musician's character can influence how I feel about their music, so maybe it would help if you knew that he was really nice to me back when I was a high school kid working part-time at a local T.J. Maxx ('97 or '98-ish); I had the pleasure of ringing up the "crappy t-shirts" he was buying which he planned on, in his words, "turning into crappy sleeveless t-shirts." :)

    I was a big fan of the Allman Brothers at that time, but I didn't have any idea who he was based solely on his appearance. When he made reference to those "sleeveless t-shirts" being a "musician thing," I asked which band he played with. I was figuring he was someone local, so you can imagine I was a bit surprised (and skeptical) when he said he was with the Allman Brothers, and they were heading to a show in Virginia Beach. The signature on the credit card receipt and a subsequent google search when I got home confirmed: Dickey Betts.

    He was very nice, very gracious and very humble, and that only made me like his playing even more.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
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  21. lucan_g

    lucan_g Forum Resident

    Richard Thompson is an outstanding acoustic (and electric) guitarist. Dylan is serviceable (but of course outstanding in every other way).
    davmar77 likes this.
  22. VinylRob

    VinylRob Forum Resident

    Not to mention, this song just makes my toes tap and the sentiment behind it, touches my heart. It's a feel good song for me, and reminds me of many good times. Betts initially wanted the band's lead vocalist, Gregg, to sing the song, but guitarist Duane encouraged him to sing it himself: "Man, this is your song and it sounds like you and you need to sing it." And so it is. Also notable, it was one of Duane's last contributions to the album and us.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
  23. Efus

    Efus Forum Resident

    Jackson, NJ, USA
    I'm no fan of Dickey's, mostly his off stage stuff, but his greatness musically is not in question.
    Dickey's problem is he's just been in the spotlight all his life for all to see and comment on.

    Takes the lead in the ABB after Duanes death, since Berry and Gregg were not in great shape to put it mildly, and using the momentum gets the band to the top.
    Festival/Stadium headliners for the next 4,5 years.

    Growing up in the South, Dickey's tone and playing instantly familiar and still unique imo, and his under-rated qualities as a songwriter/arranger aren't talked about much.
    Not a great singer by any stretch, his vocal on Ramblin' Man, is a great performance.
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  24. lucan_g

    lucan_g Forum Resident

    For anyone interested in a bit more of Dickey's breadth... I'd recommend checking out "Highway Call". A welcome spotlight on the man.
    ian christopher and Efus like this.
  25. skybluestoday

    skybluestoday Forum Resident

    I wuz there... :wave:
    D.B. and ian christopher like this.

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