Duane Betts: Establishing His Own Identity

The second generation musician shines on solo debut Wild & Precious Life

Duane Betts (Image: Facebook)

Like father, like son? That seems to be the inevitable comparison any time an offspring of an iconic individual attempts to follow in their footsteps.

In the case of Duane Betts, son of Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts, that comparison could certainly be made. Yet after two albums with another Allmans offshoot, the Allman-Betts Band, he’s ready to stake out his own sound and carve an individual imprint.

“I realize the comparisons are inevitable,” Betts says, speaking from his home in Wyoming, where he splits his time with a residence in Florida, near where his dad still resides. “I look like my dad, I play like my dad and I went on the road with him while I was growing up. But I’m my own man, and this album will hopefully establish my own identity.”

The album he’s referring to is his first solo venture, Wild & Precious Life, an impressive set of songs boasting instantly engaging melodies and a sound that suggests they’ve been floating in the ether forever. Granted, the guitar riffs often sound eerily familiar, especially on songs such as “Evergreen” and “Waiting On a Song,” where that unmistakable sound that once characterized Allman’s classics like “Ramblin’ Man” frequently comes to the fore. Yet, at the same time, the younger Betts has clearly come into his own, resulting in a series of stand-out songs honed from a personal perspective.

Duane Betts Wild & Precious Life, Royal Potato Family 2023

It’s somewhat surprising in fact, given that Betts played such a prominent role in the Betts Allman Band that this is, in fact, his first full length outing, a 2018 solo EP titled Sketches of American Music notwithstanding. Asked why, he says simply he was never confident about his vocals, which seems somewhat surprising given the clarity and confidence he shares here. Ironically, it was the down time during the pandemic that allowed him to write the material that would eventually find its way to the new album. Many of the tracks were written in proximity to his dad’s domain, and not surprisingly, the elder Betts offered his advice as the process was playing out.

“He’d say things like, ‘You might consider putting a steel guitar in here’ or something to that effect, or give me other feedback, which I welcomed. I found it very helpful. After all, he’s certainly been at it awhile.”

Although he insists he’s proud to be part of such a fabled legacy — one that resurfaces here courtesy of contributions from bassist Berry Duane Oakley, son of original Allman bassist Berry Oakley, and second generation Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks, who also happens to be the nephew of the late Allmans percussionist Butch Trucks — he’s anxious to carve out his own niche. Betts hopes that with this album, the world will recognize him all on his own. He says he has the impetus to pursue that path now, given the fact he’s found sobriety and that he married the love of his life in 2019. 

That’s not to say he didn’t welcome outside contributions. Aside from Trucks, who also gave him use of Swamp Raga Studios, which he and wife Susan Tedeschi own, guests Marcus King and Nicki Bluhm lend their talents as well. 

Having watched his father from the wings as a teenager, he never thought twice about following in his footsteps. Still, Wild & Precious Life remains a distinctive digression from his earlier efforts with his bandmate and best pal Devon Allman. That band still has some shows on the books, but Betts also has plans to take his own outfit, Duane Betts & Palmetto Hotel, out on the road for selected dates as well. That group consisting of Oakley on bass, guitarist Johnny Stachela, keyboardist John Ginty, and drummer Tyler Greenwell — will tour behind the album this summer.  

So while a legacy lives on, a new chapter also begins. With songs that range from the distinctive Southern sway of “Forest Lane” and the tasteful twang of “Colors Fade,” to the riveting resolve of “Saints To Sinners,” the more exotic appeal shared through the instrumental “Under the Bali Moon,” the rousing repast of “Cold Dark World,” and the tender touch provided by “Stare at the Sun” and “Circles in the Stars,” Wild & Precious Life decidedly lives up to its title while etching its impressions from a personal perspective. So, too, the aforementioned ”Waiting on a Song” sums up that stance while hailing the virtues of patience and perseverance:


“Holding on to hope
It’s better than gold
Some days move fast
Some move slow
Hanging in the shadows

Hanging in the deep
Whatever we catch

Whatever we keep.” 


Clearly then, Wild & Precious Life makes it clear that Duane Betts is ready to pursue his own path.


AUDIO: Duane Betts “Waiting on a Song”


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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville, Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

5 thoughts on “Duane Betts: Establishing His Own Identity

  • June 23, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Hope he is not like his dad in beating women up.

  • June 23, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    Very promising. Unique, compelling voice, good band that is integrated yet not derivative.
    Nice solo that builds well and reminds me of some immortal performances if his predecessors, but not a copy. Perhaps needs to strike out a bit deeper. The path shows the direction, but the forest ahead beckons.

  • June 24, 2023 at 8:06 am

    He is a great guy

  • June 29, 2023 at 9:05 am

    No doubt at all that his father’s influence of playing style runs in his veins.
    Truly keeping the legacy alive. It’s beyond refreshing to hear actual real talent playing real music that means something to them. A supreme improvement over most of the bs being pedaled as music today.
    Exactly how and why The Brothers got together to create their brand of incredible magic.

  • June 29, 2023 at 10:55 am

    So happy to see he is making music
    How can he stop what is in his blood
    Thanks music gods.


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