Hear a Musical Tribute to Dickey Betts from Son Duane

Duane Betts dedicated “Stare at the Sun” on his first solo album to the fearless guitar playing of the late Allman Brothers legend

Duane and Dickey Betts playing guitars on stage

Photo: Jay Blakesberg /MediaPunch /IPX/AP

Duane and Dickey Betts perform in 2018.

At seven years old, Duane Betts asked his dad for a drum set. Dickey Betts—the legendary Allman Brothers guitarist who died Thursday at eighty—obliged. At twelve, Duane switched to guitar. Not long after, he was on the road with the Allman Brothers. “I was a guitar tech; I sat in with them regularly,” the younger Betts recounted during a recent G&G Back Porch Session performance. “That was my schooling for playing music.” 

He had quite the teacher. His Florida-born father joined forces with bandmate Duane Allman on some of the most iconic and influential guitar playing of their era, helping create the genre that would become known as Southern rock. After Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident in 1971, Dickey Betts became the Allman Brothers’ sole lead guitarist; he also wrote and sang on the band’s biggest hit, 1973’s “Ramblin’ Man,” and penned such enduring tracks as “Jessica” and “Blue Sky.” Five years later, his only son was born, and Betts named him Duane in memory of the late Allman. 

Last year, following decades of stints in bands and playing with his father in Dickey Betts & Great Southern, Duane Betts released his first solo album, Wild & Precious Life. It touches on time’s fleeting hand, his journey to sobriety, falling in love, and finding inspiration. Though the influence of the Allman Brothers and his father ripples through the whole album, one track, titled “Stare at the Sun,” is a direct tribute to the elder Betts. 

“I got the idea from something Derek Trucks told me about my father’s guitar playing,” says Betts, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his dad. “He said, ‘He’s a player that’s not afraid to stare directly into the sun.’”

Trucks lends his slide guitar skills on the album version of the track, weaving beautifully with Betts and his band to create a full, layered sound reminiscent of the original Allman Brothers. The lyrics are a moving homage—“you have a dream / and a restless mind”—but it’s the guitar that shines, building to fittingly fearless heights. 

Below, hear Duane Betts perform the song in July 2023 at G&G along with guitarist Johnny Stachela. (The song’s intro begins at the 20:02 mark.)