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Midnight Riders

Co-founder Dickey Betts is gone from the Allman Brothers Band, while Gregg Allman hits the road on a separate mini-tour

And if the ABB's version of events is a bit suspect and a little too pat (particularly given the prodigious amounts of alcohol and narcotics consumed by the group over the years), Allman isn't clarifying a thing. The tour publicist already warned that Allman would have "no comment" on the Betts situation because of "pending legal action," but Allman is equally reticent about whether the band would return for its annual summer tour with Betts, without him or even at all. "I can't tell you, but," he says, his voice trailing off, as if he'd love nothing more than to really spill his guts. "The main thing we're doing next year is going into the studio for a new record, and we'll take it from there."

Further complicating matters, Betts was arrested October 22 after his wife, Donna, 45, told deputies he had attacked her, pushing her to the ground and hitting her at their home. He was released on bail October 24 from a Florida jail where he had been held on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Betts and his guitar will be in evidence, though, in next month's release of Peakin' at the Beacon, a live record from their 1999 tour. Why another concert souvenir when their catalog already has several -- including one considered among the best in rock history (1971's Live at Fillmore East) -- may have more than a little to do with it marking the end of their recording contract, but Allman says he considers the new one the "best" live record since that epochal release.

Gregg Allman draws mostly from his soul and blues works from the past quarter-century on this tour.
Jeff Dunas
Gregg Allman draws mostly from his soul and blues works from the past quarter-century on this tour.

For the Gregg Allman and Friends tour, though, all the concerns of that 800-pound Other Group will be momentarily cast aside, allowing the audience a closer view of the man whose voice is equally capable of expressing the depths of sadness and the heights of joy, his head cocked back and long gray/blond hair dangling, eyes closed behind the keys of his organ as if lost in his own personal groove. "I brought my very best Hammond with me, and we got it down tight, man. Real tight," he says with a chuckle.

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