Despite His Rock Lineage, Duane Betts Does His Own Thing

Despite being the son of guitarist Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band, Duane Betts doesn't like to dwell on the pressures of following in anyone's footsteps.
Duane Betts doesn't feel the pressure to follow in anyone's footsteps.
Duane Betts doesn't feel the pressure to follow in anyone's footsteps. Photo by Dylan Jon Wade Cox
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The first music Duane Betts can remember really digging in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida, was the unlikely '80s combo of Run DMC and Van Halen.

"I'd put my headphones on in the back of the school bus and listen to them in my Walkman," he tells New Times. "Then, when I was a little older, I got into classic rock like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix."

It would make sense that Duane Betts would have a deep, abiding love for classic rock since his dad is Dickey Betts, one of the founding members of classic rock staples the Allman Brothers Band.

"I knew my dad was a guitar player, but I didn't really think of him like that," Betts explains. "At Fillmore East was the first Allman Brothers cassette I listened to."

Dickey taught drums to a young Betts, though, when he decided to pick up the guitar at 13, Betts says he was more self-taught.

"My dad showed me some stuff early on, the building blocks and the fundamentals, but you learn guitar more from listening to records," he says. "I was obsessively trying to figure things out. I started with metal, then I got into the blues, and there was also Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins."

As an adult, Betts played with a couple of bands before touring with his dad for a decade as a member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Further carving out his lane, he's releasing his first solo record, Wild & Precious Life, ten songs of Southern country rock with plenty of impressive guitar licks that will appeal to fans of Allman Brothers songs like "Jessica" on July 14.

"It's a celebration of life and appreciation," Betts says. "I've gone through addiction. I got married after I got sober, which is all new to me."
Some of the album was written in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Betts lives with his wife. A lot of it was also written in his father's house in Florida, which evoked plenty of emotion.

"My father's getting older. His presence, being in the next room [and] seeing him getting older gracefully inspired some of the songs," he adds. "It's also about approaching every day with optimism as best we can."

And although the album was recorded in Jacksonville and the cover artwork features an undeniably Floridian landscape, Betts says the Sunshine State hasn't served as a muse for him musically.

"If I went into a bar and they start playing Jimmy Buffet, that doesn't really make me want to write music," Betts says jokingly. "But there's a connection of Southern music in Wild & Precious Life."

He's now set to support his solo debut on the road; the tour kicks off at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on July 14. He'll also do an in-store performance at Radioactive Records that day at 5 pm.

"It's a great band. It's the first tour this lineup has ever done," Betts says. "We'll play songs from this record, some songs I did with the Allman Betts Band (a band he formed with other children of Allman Brothers members). We might do some Allman Brothers songs — maybe even a Rolling Stones song."

Despite his musical legacy — even his first name is a tribute to the fallen guitar legend Duane Allman — Betts doesn't like to dwell on the pressures of following in anyone's footsteps.

"I try to do my thing, man," he adds. "I made a record, and I'm really proud of it. If you want to get in your own head and overthink it, you can, but I'm too busy for that. I try to do my best work and leave it at that."

Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel. 7 p.m. Friday, July 14, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; Tickets cost $19 via
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