and it was still too early to take a reading on it. “I’m not real sure how this album is going to be received,” he says slowly, softly, “but if the live shows are any indication of what the acceptance will be, the people will really get off to it.”
Does being a front man instead of a sideman make him uncomfortable? “I’m pretty comfortable with it. I think the weakest thing in the band, though, is the singing. Right now it’s more into solos, and I’m not talking about a 12-bar blues, I’m talking about something like ‘High Falls,’ where you’re really put on the fuckin’ spot. It’s almost like creating a piece of music during a solo like that. So the band’s essence really is with the two guitars and the two drummers.
Twin guitars playing parallel lines came about in country and jazz during the couple of decades after Jimmie Rodgers–a great Betts influence–died of tuberculosis in the early Thirties. For Dickey, the fascination with twin leads goes back at least as far as the early Sixties (he’s in his early thirties now) when he and one of his early guitar teachers (Jerry Paramore) played together in a band hack in Florida. Band’s name? “Aw, who cares?” he blushes. It was just a little beer bar band.”
Betts was playing in another beer joint band several years later with Berry Oakley and the guy who was known to the public as El Rhino (check the Iron Butterfly) Metamorphosis album). Muscle Shoals/Macon session players Duane Allman and Jaimoe (Jai Johanny
Johanson) had been persuaded by Phil Walden to form a band, so Duane looked up Oakley and went to Florida so that the two of them could get used to each other’s playing.
Had he known Duane before? How did that situation settle with Betts and El Rhino? known Duane for several years before that,– says Dickey, “so I didn’t really think of him as a hot session player coming down to steal our bass player. It wasn’t that we hung around together a lot, but we had played and sung together before, so he wasn’t like a stranger to me.
“He and I played really well together onstage,” Betts quietly understates. “But it wasn’t until later that they asked me to join the band. It wasn’t the ABB at first, it was to be something else, called the Duane Allman Band or something like that. The three of them (Jaimoe, Duane, and Berry) did some sessions too, but it really wasn’t talked about too much. I think ‘Coin’ Down Slow’ was one of the tunes they recorded before Butch, Gregg and I joined.
Betts shifts in his tuck-and-roll hotel room chair, thinking for a moment. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with another guitarist, and I think that’s part of the reason Duane came down to play in our band. It’s hard to put two guitar players together–it takes two guys who really know how to work together, really know each other’s style. My style of writing was formed during those early days with the Allman Brothers–I kind of wrote around two guitar players. So now, I had the chance to put something new together, and it just seemed best to have another guitarist.
“I like somebody on my ass, too,” he confides, prompting belly laughs from the room’s population. “I work a lot better, come up with twice as much stuff when