After destroying his living room, threatening his wife and sending police on a manhunt near his Osprey, Fla., home, Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts was corralled and sent for a psychiatric evaluation last Saturday.
According to authorities, Betts was intoxicated and armed with a knife around 7 p.m. on June 3. The incident came just over two weeks after he was asked to sit out the band's summer tour. His wife, Donna, called an off-duty Sarasota County sheriff's deputy and family friend who lives nearby, but refused to provide specifics on the threats, according to a Sarasota County Sheriff's Office report.
"I'll just kill myself," Betts told his friend, Deputy John Caldwell, according to a sheriff's report. While the report does not specifically name Betts or his wife (instead referring to a husband and a wife), Corporal Chuck Lesaltato of the Sheriff's Office confirmed Betts was the husband in question. Also included in the report was Betts' explanation for the tirade: the guitarist claimed he "was on the edge."
Caldwell left with Donna Betts and called for help. When three other deputies arrived at the house, Betts was gone too, leaving behind a shattered television and an overturned couch. Sheriff's deputies used a helicopter and a tracking dog to search the area, about fifty miles south of St. Petersburg. Betts called home on a mobile phone during the search and talked with a sheriff's deputy, according to the report.
Deputies found him by tracing another phone call to his home made from a regular phone at a nearby house. The authorities took Betts to a mental health center under Florida's Baker Act, which allows police to detain a person for up to forty-eight hours for psychiatric evaluation. The treatment center that evaluated Betts would not reveal the results of the evaluation, but according to the Allmans' management, Betts is back at home recovering.
The domestic troubles aren't Betts' first. In December, 1996, he was charged with aggravated domestic assault when he allegedly placed a gun to his wife's head after she accused him of injecting heroin and cocaine.
Betts is a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, who began in 1969. A recent statement released by the band announced his hiatus until a fall tour: "The remaining band members have made this decision because of personal, business and musical differences within the group. The band feels it is inappropriate to discuss these differences in public."
On May 20, an angry Betts accused the band of implying that he was suffering from drug problems. "This is totally, absolutely unfounded!" he wrote in an online letter.
Written by MATT MOSSMAN for RollingStone.com News