The Late Dickey Betts Discusses How Jimmy Carter's Friendship With The Allman Brothers Band Helped The Candidate Win The 1976 Presidential Election

Below is a music related tribute I originally wrote for President Jimmy Carter over a year ago when he first entered hospice care in February 2023. I expected it would only be a short time until he passed. When he didn't, I decided to save it until October 1, 2024 to celebrate his 100th birthday should he make it to that milestone. 

However, with today's unhappy news about the passing of Dickey Betts (1943 - 2024) I decided it is time to finally post the article because the great second guitarist of The Allman Brothers Band is quoted in it.

Betts' most famous songs with the outstanding sextet are "Revival," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Blue Sky," and of course, "Jessica," and "Ramblin' Man."

Because most blogs and websites will likely post more traditional news stories and tributes, I hope this essay serves as something a little different and as an homage to both men.
Politics and music intersect more than many people realize. Both incumbent office holders and those seeking to take their jobs away are always looking for an inside track that appeals to voters. Jimmy Carter - who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981 - was among themOne way of attempting to win votes is by embracing the popular culture of their time, and music has always been a big part of that.

Regardless of your political affiliation, Carter never came across as the hippest dude on the planet. Even though he was a mixture of conservative morals and liberal politics it was quite surprising when the former governor of Georgia became fond of the phenomenal blues-rock sextet led by Greg Allman - the greatest band to ever come from the Peach State.

While running for the highest office in the land Carter was able to take advantage of a recently passed law that required the federal government to match private campaign donations dollar for dollar. This is where The Allman Brothers Band stepped in. At a 1975 concert in Providence, RI ticket sales brought in $64,000 - a sizeable amount in the seventies. Uncle Sam then provided the younger challenger to incumbent Gerald Ford the same amount of money the concert earned.

A year before the election Carter's fledgling campaign was short on funds and the concert helped keep it afloat while he obtained additional support. The Allmans continued to assist the politician, and the appreciative Carter has been quoted as saying that they did just as much as anyone else to put him in The White House.

According to a recent article in Phantasy Tour, "Carter strategist Hamilton Jordan later wrote in his memoir “A Boy From Georgia” that the Allman Brothers Band’s shows were “the critical effort [that] established the campaign and kept it going financially when no one knew who [Carter] was.”

The legendary group's longtime guitarist, Dickey Betts, told Rolling Stone that “the reason we did it is because he totally changed the attitude about Georgia."  "After he was governor, you could see the difference. It was like the sun came out in Georgia. It was the Peach State instead of the ‘afraid to drive through it to get to Florida’ state.’ We thought, ‘This guy’s all right.'"

Carter was not only a fan of The Allman Brothers Band - he was a true friend to them - and at age 92 the man who became President of the United States attended Greg Allman's 2017 funeral.

In addition to the famous Georgia jam-band, Carter's candidacy was supported by Crosby, Stills and Nash, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Bee Gees and Dolly Parton, among others. The newly elected President asked Aretha Franklin and Paul Simon to perform at his 1977 inaugural festivities. Despite Carter's public persona these friendly relationships earned him the nickname of "The Rock and Roll President."

Below is the Providence concert in its entirety where you can hear Carter introducing The Allman Brothers Band beginning at around the 1:50 mark.



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