A source tells EW Online that the guitarist is out of the group

By Lori Reese
May 18, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Neil Preston/Corbis

Ramblin’ man, indeed. Dickey Betts, a founding member of Rock Hall of Famers the Allman Brothers, was booted from the group on Saturday, according to a source close to him. The guitarist reportedly received a fax from fellow members saying they ”no longer required his services.” Citing ”business politics,” an outraged Betts, 56, is reluctant to comment publicly, for fear of affecting possible civil litigation, the source tells EW Online. A publicist at Epic Records, the band’s label, says he has heard nothing about the action. And a spokesperson for the group’s tours expresses surprise at the news: ”I don’t know, it’s so hard to believe. He’s really one of the key people.” The band’s manager, Burt Holman, declined to comment.

The source tells EW Online that Betts won’t be part of the Allman Brothers lineup on June 16, when the group launches its summer tour. ((UPDATE: 24 hours after this story was originally published by EW Online, publicist Dan Klores confirmed that Betts would not be touring with the Allmans this summer, citing ”creative differences.” Taking Betts’ place on guitar will be Jimmy Herring, who has played with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead.)) Of course, the legendary Southern rockers have seen no shortage of turmoil since forming in 1968.

In 1976, the band parted ways amid controversy surrounding reports of drug abuse. (Road manager John ”Scooter” Herring got 75 years for drug trafficking after Gregg Allman testified against him in court.) They reunited in 1979, but split again one year later. In 1989, after Betts signed with Gregg Allman’s label (Epic), the band re-formed for a third time.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the Allmans without Betts, who wrote their biggest hit, ”Ramblin’ Man” (No. 2 on the charts in 1973), and such other classics as ”Jessica,” ”Blue Sky,” and ”Southbound.” Recently, during the band’s monthlong concert series at New York’s Beacon Theater, Betts repeatedly stole the spotlight with his lyrical licks and gentle Southern charm.