Butch Trucks dies at 69

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:

26trucks-obit-master768

(from NYT) Butch Trucks, far right, with, from left, Jai Johanny Johanson, Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman in an undated photograph. Credit Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

14 Comments

  1. Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Also: uncle of Derek Trucks, another awesome guitarist.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Several of his relatives are musicians as well.

      • Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I saw that when checking to see if Derek Trucks was related. Quite a family! Nephew of a MLB pitcher too.

        (I admit to not knowing the other band members in the Allman Brothers Band — beyond the eponymous two.)

  2. nickswearsky
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I was never a big fan of the Allman Bros. But I grew up with a few siblings who were (and still are) serious fans. As I grew older, I did begin to appreciate the level of musical skill and sheer talent in the band. Trucks was a big part of that. Even thou©h I am still not a fan, I understand that their status as Rock legends is well deserved.

  3. Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I found this interesting. Layla has contribution on guitar from two great guitarists — but I never knew which was which.

    http://www.guitarworld.com/eric-clapton-and-duane-allmans-isolated-guitar-tracks-layla

  4. Randy Bessinger
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    So sad. Seeing The Allman Brothers live with Duane was one of the highlights of my life. I had seen most of the greats before that…Dylan with The Band before they were the Band, Bealtles, Clapton, Rlling Stones with Jones, but I had never seen anything like the Brothers live..

  5. Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Big fan of the ABB. I was too young to see Duane, but saw Dickie, and more recently saw Derek (Butch’s nephew who was a prodigy and played in Eric Clapton’s band–in my opinion, one of the best 10 slide guitarists in the world currently) and Warren Haynes ( another superb player who joined the band when Dickie Betts was still a member. They played at the Beacon theatre every year and totally rocked; keeping Duane’s legacy alive.

    I also was very fortunate to see Butch this past year in the Funky Biscuit in Boca. He was playing with a number of offspring from the ABB. So much fun. He will definitely be missed.

  6. Christopher
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Ive seen the Allman Brothers several times since the 1990’s and they always delivered. They easily out-jam the Dead or Phish, though I love all three bands. Their music is more intricate, I almost want to say more intellectual, while the lyrics are often quite emotional, gutteral, even, and intense. Trucks will be sorely missed. Wish I could have seen them one last time.

  7. jaxkayaker
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Inevitable, but still quite sad. RIP.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I hear it was suicide. he apparently shot himself in the head! So sad.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    You ask me, it’s been all downhill since Berry Oakley bought it.

    I’ve been boycotting that band since Gregg snitched on Scooter Herring.

  9. George Atkinson
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Daily mail reports as suicide:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4157864/Allman-Brothers-drummer-Butch-Trucks-shot-head.html

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Another intellectual component of the Allmans is keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who now works with the Stones, and is also a Georgia conservationist/tree farmer, author, and proud supporter of the American Chestnut Foundation.

  11. Brujo Feo
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    RIP, Butch. A sad and terrible end, but this was never a band whose members were allowed to die in their sleep. Trouble No More, indeed…


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