Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers Band Singer and Guitarist, Dead at 80

Betts, a co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band, died on Thursday, April 18 according to a post on his official Instagram page

Dickey Betts, singer-songwriter and guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, has died at the age of 80.

News of his death was confirmed on Thursday, April 18 by his family on his official Instagram page alongside a throwback photo of the "Ramblin' Man" writer.

"It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard 'Dickey' Betts (December 12, 1943 - April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old," the caption began. "The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch passed away earlier today at his home in Osprey, Fla., surrounded by his family."

<p>Kirk West/Getty</p> Dickey Betts in Miami, Florida in February 1980

Kirk West/Getty

Dickey Betts in Miami, Florida in February 1980

Related: The Allman Brothers Band's Dickey Betts in Critical Condition Following 'Freak Accident'

It continued: "Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide. At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time."

PEOPLE can confirm that Betts' cause of death was cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, per the late artist's manager David Spero.

The Allman Brothers Band said in a statement that Betts' death came "following a period of declining health."

<p>Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic</p> Dickey Betts, formerly of The Allman Brothers Band

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Dickey Betts, formerly of The Allman Brothers Band

"Dickey wrote quintessential Brothers songs including 'Blue Sky,' 'Rambling Man,' 'Jessica,' 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed' and many others. His extraordinary guitar playing alongside guitarist Duane Allman created a unique dual guitar signature sound that became the signature sound of the genre known as Southern Rock," the statement continued. "He was passionate in life, be it music, songwriting, fishing, hunting, boating, golf, karate or boxing. Dickey was all in on and excelled at anything that caught his attention."

The statement added that he joins a slew of friends and family "in that old Winnebago in the sky touring the world taking their music to all who will listen."

Born Forrest Richard Betts, the Allman Brothers Band co-founder grew up was raised in the Bradenton, Florida, area. He left home at 16 and joined the circus to play in a band.

After returning home, he and bassist Berry Oakley joined a group that became the Jacksonville, Florida-based group Second Coming. After a jam session in 1969 between Betts, Oakley and Duane Allman, and his younger brother, the Allman Brothers Band was formed.

Betts and Duane shared guitar duties in the original Allman Brothers Band lineup. Over the years, the pioneering jam band helped cultivate the Southern rock genre, influencing acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kid Rock.

<p>Kirk West/Getty</p> Dickey Betts in Miami, Florida in February 1980

Kirk West/Getty

Dickey Betts in Miami, Florida in February 1980

Following Duane's death, Betts took on more of a leadership role within the band and became its primary guitarist. He wrote songs like "Jessica," inspired by his daughter, and the group's biggest commercial hit "Ramblin' Man."

When the Allman Brothers Band went on hiatus in the late 1970s, Betts focused on his solo career and side projects with music project like Great Southern and The Dickey Betts Band. After reuniting in 1979 with Dan Toler on guitar with Betts, the Allman Brothers Band broke up again in 1982, during which time Betts formed the shortlived group Betts, Hall, Leavell and Trucks. The rockers reformed once again in 1989 with Warren Haynes as guitarist alongside Betts. In 1995, Betts was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

By 2000, Betts was ousted from the group over a conflict regarding his continued drug and alcohol use. He never performed with the band again nor played with former band members for reunions or side projects.

In 2018, Betts was found in critical but stable condition after an accident at his Sarasota, Florida, home.

At the time, Betts’ manager and longtime friend Spero confirmed the news to PEOPLE, adding, “I know his fans will see [Dickey] soon.”

According to a statement posted on Facebook, Twitter and his website, he fell and hit his head.

<p>Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty</p> Dan Toler, Dickey Betts and Dave Goldflies perform with the Allman Brothers Band at the Oakland Coliseum in May 1979

Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty

Dan Toler, Dickey Betts and Dave Goldflies perform with the Allman Brothers Band at the Oakland Coliseum in May 1979


“He went out to his backyard on Little Sarasota Bay and while playing with the family dog, slipped and cracked his head, causing bleeding from the brain,” the statement read.

Drummer Jaimoe remains the last living founder of the Allman Brothers Band.

Betts is survived by his wife Donna, whom he married in 1989.

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