Unless you’re an Allman Brothers fan, as I am (or rather, was), you probably haven’t heard of Butch Trucks, but he was one of the co-founders of—and, along with Jaimoe, a main drummer for—the greatest “southern rock” band of all time, and in the top five of my greatest bands of any kind. His real name was Claude Hudson Trucks, he was there when the band started in 1969, and he played with them (minus several members who died or left) ever since. His sound, especially paired with that of Jaimoe, was the driving force behind that locomotive rock; as Dickie Betts said, “When Butch came along, he had that freight train, meat-and-potatoes kind of thing that set Jaimoe up perfectly. He had the power thing we needed.”
Trucks died at his home in West Palm Beach Florida on Tuesday; he was only 69 and the cause hasn’t been announced. Something surprising from his Wikipedia entry:
Trucks had a long interest in philosophy and literature. In 2005, the New York Times Book Review published a letter from Trucks criticizing Roy Blount, Jr.’s reference to Duane Allman as “one of these churls” in a review of Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader. The letter further criticized Grover Lewis for his 1971 Rolling Stone article about the band, which Trucks wrote made the members look like uneducated characters who spoke in dialogue “taken directly from Faulkner.”
That letter’s still online; you can find it here and it is well worth reading. Here’s a brief excerpt:
First, let me state unequivocally that Duane Allman was one of the most powerful, charismatic and trustworthy men I have ever known. I would use the word ”messianic” to describe the impact he had on the people around him, and his influence on music today runs much deeper than all but a very few even begin to know. He was a man of the highest character and principles, and for Blount to refer to him as ”one of these churls” is inexcusable. Blount also quotes Lewis’s article about us: ”At my teasing suggestion . . . Duane coldly offers to punch me out on the spot.” To put things in their proper perspective, I will tell you exactly how Lewis, our ”fellow traveler,” came to be threatened.
Here’s a great clip with the original band, including Duane Allman, playing “Whipping Post” at the Fillmore East in 1970. Both Trucks and Jaimoe are on drums (Trucks appears from 1:37-150). This could be put in the dictionary to illustrate the term “smokin'”.
And a photo from the NYT obituary: