1979-1984: Allman Brothers Band Days

David “Rook” Goldflies with the Allman Brothers Band

In 1977, kickin’ around Cincinnati at the ripe old age of 20, livin’ ’round the corner from the Over The Rhine District, one of the toughest, poorest and roughest areas of Cincinnati (which later became a swanky bunch of night clubs, then the riots came and I think it just went back to being tough) I spent hot summers and very cold winters there playing in various local bands.

The night before I met Richard “Dickey” Betts, one of the two original guitarists in the Allman Brothers Band, I’d stayed up late studying (and am still studying!) the masterful jazz composition “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane.

At the time,

I was performing in a Top-40 group in Northern Kentucky (you would have loved hearing me sing “Play That Funky Music”… agh!). One night, about 1.5 weeks into the gig, in walked Dan Toler, the second guitarist in Mr. Betts’ group, Great Southern Band. Dan was from Connersville, Indiana and had been performing and recording with Dickey for several years. The band had lost its bassist in Chicago and the search for a replacement was on. Since Dan hailed from the Cincinnati (Southern Indiana) area, they felt they could use his contacts to locate a new bassist…immediately!

Dan knew of me through his very talented brother, David (Frankie) Toler (who later played in The Allman Brothers), and wondered if I would like to audition for the group. (Sadly, David Toler passed away June 6th, 2011. He was a joy to work with and to know. His beautiful spirit and talent will be missed.)

At first I didn’t connect the name Dickey Betts with the ABB, but I soon made the connection and jumped at the chance to meet this legendary performer.

I joined the Great Southern Band, and after forming a close musical rapport with Dickey, I was asked to be involved with the reformation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1979.

Just a thought…

Looking back, there is no question that the prior year and a half with Great Southern was the perfect classroom for playing in the Allman Brothers Band. Dickey is a very expressive performer, and his control of the group through body language (conducting) took a while to get used to. Once you learn where he is going it’s a pleasure to ride along. 🙂

Greg Allman, Butch Trucks and Jai Johnny Johnson (Jaimo) joined the Great Southern Band in concert in Central Park, and the stage was set for another Allman Brothers Band album. The first album, Enlightened Rogues, contained the minor hit, “Crazy Love”. Also included was the Grammy nominated rock instrumental “Pegasus.” I was also fortunate to have co-written a song with Dickey “Try It One More Time” on the Enlightened Rogues album. It’s a “funky” lick using diatonic 6ths inspired by the song “Right on the Money” written by Bill Bartlett, the founder of the pop groups The Lemonpipers (Green Tamborine) and Ram Jam “Black Betty”.

 

Albums with Dickey Betts and Great Southern:

  • Atlanta’s Burning Down

Albums with the Allman Brothers Band:

  • Enlightened Rogues
  • Reach for the Sky
  • Brothers of the Road

Many years of international tours and hundreds of dates later, Dickey and Greg decided to part ways again. After a short period with the Greg Allman Group, I was asked to join forces with Dickey Betts in another interesting group called Betts, Hall, Leavel and Trucks. There was a great deal of talent in this group. The addition of Chuck Leavel (of Sea Level, Jessica, and now The Rolling Stones fame) and Jimmy Hall (dynamic lead vocal and sax player from Wet Willie) really made working with the group a pleasure. Unfortunately, the group never recorded. Those great jams only exist in a few people’s memories. I’ve recently heard rumors of a few bootleg mixing board tapes floating around and some youtube videos. Good luck locating them!


Equipment list:

  • Guild acoustic bass
  • Alembic long scale dove tail active electronics 4 string bass guitar
  • A Carl Thompson hand made KOA wood 4 string bass guitar
  • A Fender Jazz Bass owned by the then stage manager Bill Hoyt (a great bass from a great guy!)
  • 2 consecutive serial number Macintosh 2300 studio reference amplifiers (Great sounding boat anchors)
  • An Alembic preamp
  • Urie 31 band Graphic EQ
  • Kamen round wound Kamflon coated bass strings
  • Fender medium guitar picks (Dickey liked the sound of “Picked” Bass)
  • 16 JBL K-140 speakers mounted in
  • 16 Bag End infinite baffle single 15″ cabinets

Betts, Hall, Leavell Trucks

Allman Brothers Band

Great Southern Band

4 thoughts on “1979-1984: Allman Brothers Band Days”

  1. I remember seeing you in 1979 with the Allman Brothers at the Boston Garden. Molly Hatchet opened up for ABB. Absolutely loved the show…ran right out to buy the album Enlightened Rouges! Always liked ABB, but after that concert, I was a lifelong fan!

  2. I gotta tell you, of all the bass players the ABB utilized I thought you were “A” numero uno. Your picking along side Dickey Betts was tight and right on the money.
    Now that Butch and Greg are gone it’s a good time to look back and really reflect upon having been a part of something that is truly a part of music history. My compliments sir… Tk

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