Jeremy Clarkson pays tribute to Dickey Betts, whose song Jessica served as the Top Gear theme

Guitarist who co-founded the Allman Brothers was known for writing song that featured in the openning and closing credits of the motoring show

Maira Butt
Saturday 20 April 2024 09:27 BST
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band dead at 80

Jeremy Clarkson has paid tribute to guitar legend and co-founder of the Allman Brothers, Dickey Betts, who died on Thursday (18 April).

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, who wrote the band’s biggest hit “Ramblin’ Man”, was known in the UK for another popular tune: the song used as the Top Gear theme.

Betts had been living with cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for more than a year. He died aged 80, at his home in Osprey, Florida, his manager of 20 years, David Spero, said.

Clarkson, who has just released the third season of his series Clarkson’s Farm, presented the long-running motoring show Top Gear between 1998 and 2015, and paid tribute to Betts in a post on X/Twitter.

“Dicky Betts has died. You probably haven’t heard of him. But he wrote a song called ‘Jessica’. And you will DEFINITELY have heard that,” he wrote on Saturday (19 April) in a tweet that has racked up over one million views.

One fan did some research before responding, “I’ve googled ‘Jessica’ and as you said we all DEFINITELY have heard it. It is Top Gear intro music.”

According to Betts’s fellow band member and drummer Butch Trucks, the song was written for the guitarist’s daughter.

“It’s just a beautiful song. Dickey wrote it for his little girl – she was about a year old, crawling around on the floor,” he told Nights With Alice Cooper.

Clarkson paid tribute in a post on X/Twitter
Clarkson paid tribute in a post on X/Twitter (Getty Images)

“That was the inspiration for that real kind of thing. It has a little lullaby on the ending, that kind of thing. It’s energetic, melodic and very rhythmic. It’s a lot of fun to play. That one can get pretty artistic sometimes.”

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Although Clarkson has a personal and professional connection to “Jessica”, he revealed that it isn’t his favourite song of the band.

He told fans that “Ramblin’ Man” was “probably my favourite”.

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.

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. The band was also notable as a biracial group from the Deep South.

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