The Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer Dickey Betts has died at the age of 80, his family announced.

The musician, who was known for writing one of the band’s biggest hits, Ramblin’ Man, died on Thursday “surrounded by his family” at his home in Osprey, Florida.

David Spero, Betts’ manager of 20 years, told the Associated Press (AP) that he had been battling against cancer for more than a year and had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A statement posted to Betts’ social media said: “It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard ‘Dickey’ Betts (December 12, 1943 – April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old.

“The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch passed away earlier today at his home in Osprey, FL., surrounded by his family.

“Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide.

“At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days.

“More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

The Allman Brothers Band “family and crew” paid tribute to their late bandmate, whose full name was Forrest Richard Betts.

An online statement said: “With deep sadness the Allman Brothers Band learned today that founding member Dickey Betts has passed away peacefully in his home in Sarasota, Florida, following a period of declining health.”

It added: “He was passionate in life, be it music, songwriting, fishing, hunting, boating, golf, karate or boxing. Dickey was all in on and excelled at anything that caught his attention.”

Among the musicians remembering Betts was blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa who said on Instagram: “My first concert was Dickey Betts at Coleman’s in Rome, New York in 1983.

“Blew my mind and made me want a Les Paul. My thoughts and prayers go out to Duane and the entire Betts family.”

Betts shared lead guitar duties with Duane Allman in the original Allman Brothers Band to help give the group its distinctive sound and create a new genre – Southern rock.

Acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Kid Rock were influenced by the Allmans’ music, which combined the blues, country, R&B and jazz with Sixties rock.

Founded in 1969, the Allmans were a pioneering jam band, trampling the traditional notion of three-minute pop songs by performing lengthy compositions in concert and on record.

Gregg Allman played keys and provided distinctive vocals, with the band also comprising a pair of drummers and bassist Berry Oakley.

Their self-titled first LP was released in November 1969, but they achieved their commercial breakthrough in 1971 when they released the album At Fillmore East.

Alongside Ramblin’ Man, Betts also wrote and co-wrote some of the band’s other best-loved songs, including Blue Sky and Southbound.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in 1971 and founding member Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle crash in 1972.

Obit Dickey Betts
Members of the Allman Brothers Band (AP)

In the following years, the band introduced new members, ventured into solo careers and split and reformed multiple times.

In 1995 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won a Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance for Jessica the following year.

The group also earned the Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2012.

Betts left the band for good in 2000, a year after their 30th anniversary.

He continued to play with his own band, Great Southern, which included his son Duane Betts.