January 24, 2017 – Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks was born on May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida.
A drummer, one of Trucks’ first bands was local Jacksonville band The Vikings, who made one 7-inch record in 1964. Another early band was The 31st of February which formed and broke up in 1968. This group’s lineup eventually included both Duane Allman and Gregg Allman. They recorded a cover of “Morning Dew”, by 1960s folk singer Bonnie Dobson.
Trucks then helped form The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with Duane Allman (guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals and organ), Dickey Betts (guitar), Berry Oakley (bass), and fellow drummer Jai Johanny Johanson.
Together, the two drummers developed a rhythmic drive that would prove crucial to the band’s success. Trucks laid down a powerful conventional beat while the jazz-influenced Johanson added a second laminate of percussion and ad libitum cymbal flourishes, seamlessly melded into one syncopated sound.
Said founding member and co-lead guitarist Dickey Betts of Trucks’ addition to the original band lineup, “…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 continued to record and perform with the Allman Brothers Band until they disbanded in 2014.
Along with band members Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, and Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks was named as plaintiff in a lawsuit against UMG Recordings. The suit, initiated in 2008, seeks $10 million over royalties from CD sales and digital downloads services such as Apple’s iTunes. Trucks saw the license given to users for downloads as legally unsound. Trucks embraced Internet technology for the group and planned to use Moogis.com (now defunct) to make the Web a real venue for the Allman Brothers and other jam bands.
In 2015, Trucks performed at two festivals with a band billed as Butch Trucks & Very Special Friends. This band evolved into a band called Les Brers which was led by Trucks and also featured other former Allman Brothers Band members including his longtime drumming partner Jaimoe. He also performed with a band called Butch Trucks & The Freight Train Band, which still has an active tour schedule well into 2017 on its website.
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.”
Trucks was related to other famous musicians. His nephew, slide guitarist extra ordinaire Derek Trucks,married to blues vocalist Susan Tedeschi, is now the co-frontman and bandleader of The Tedeschi Trucks Band and was part of the Allman Brothers Band from 1999 until their final break up in 2014. Another nephew, Duane Trucks (Derek’s younger brother), plays drums for Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans. Trucks’ oldest son, guitarist Vaylor Trucks, is part of a trio called The Yeti Trio based in Atlanta. He was also a nephew of Major League Baseball pitcher and coach “Fire” Virgil Trucks (1917-2013).
Butch Trucks died on January 24, 2017 in an apparent suicide from a gunshot wound to the head at the age of 69.
Butch Trucks, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, tragically died the night of January 24 in West Palm Beach, Florida. His wife, four children, four grandchildren and all of the remainder of the Allman Brothers Band, their families and Road Crew survive Butch. The Trucks and Allman Brothers Band families request all of Butch’s friends and fans to please respect our privacy at this time of sadness for our loss. Butch will play on in our hearts forever.
The Freight Train, family and crew are greatly saddened by the passing of our leader and friend Butch Trucks. He will be missed terribly.
Gregg Allman, who passed away 4 months later, took to social media to mourn his friend and bandmember. “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost another brother and it hurts beyond words. Butch and I knew each other since we were teenagers and we were bandmates for over 45 years. He was a great man and a great drummer and I’m going to miss him forever. Rest In Peace Brother Butch.”