Butch Trucks

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Butch Trucks
Special Guest Butch Trucks crop autoadjust.jpg
Trucks in 2007
Background information
Birth name Claude Hudson Trucks
Also known as Butch Trucks
Born (1947-05-11)May 11, 1947
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Died January 24, 2017(2017-01-24) (aged 69)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Genres Southern rock, rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active 1964–2017
Labels Flying Frog
Associated acts The Allman Brothers Band, The 31st of February, Les Brers, Butch Trucks & the Freight Train Band, Frogwings
Notable instruments

Claude Hudson "Butch" Trucks (May 11, 1947 – January 24, 2017) was an American drummer. He was best known as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. Trucks was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He played in various groups before forming the 31st of February while at Florida State University in the mid 1960s. He joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Their 1971 live release, At Fillmore East, represented an artistic and commercial breakthrough. The group became one of the most popular bands of the era on the strength of their live performances and several successful albums. Though the band broke up and reformed various times, Trucks remained a constant in their 45-year career.

Early life[edit]

Claude Hudson Trucks was born on May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida. His father was an optician.[1] He first discovered his talent at drumming when prompted by a band director in junior high: "The band director gave three of us sticks and said, 'Play me something,'" he recalled. He then attended Englewood High School, where he was made first chair as a freshman. Trucks was in two bands before graduating: the Vikings, who released one 7-inch in 1964, and the Echoes, which mainly played Beatles covers.[2] Trucks attended Florida State University for one year; he once said he "majored in staying out of Vietnam."[3] His grades suffered from poor attendance and he was kicked out.[4]

During this time, Trucks formed a band, the Bitter Ind., with two high school friends. The group played covers of Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and the Lovin' Spoonful. They relocated to Daytona Beach in hopes of finding greater success, but were often turned away by owners because their patrons were unable to dance to the music.[5] At one club, he met members of the Allman Joys, including brothers Duane and Gregg Allman. The band changed their name to the 31st of February fearing legal action from New York nightclub The Bitter End. The band signed a deal with Vanguard Records, and their self-titled debut album was released in 1968. The group briefly toured with the Allmans under various names, recording demos later released in 1972 as Duane & Greg Allman.

Music career[edit]

A Trucks drum case in The Allman Brothers Band Museum

Tired of his then-middling music career, Trucks pondered going back to school to study mathematics.[4] In 1969, he was invited to join a new project headed by Duane Allman, who had secured a record deal with Atlantic Records.[6] Allman introduced Trucks to Jai Johanny Johanson (Jaimoe), who also would be drummer in the band. Together, the two drummers developed a rhythmic drive that would prove crucial to the band. 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."[7] The group became the Allman Brothers Band, who began touring heavily and released their first, self-titled album later that November.[8] 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 a 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.[9] 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.[9][10]

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.[11] He also performed with a band called Butch Trucks & The Freight Train Band.[12]

Trucks had a long interest in philosophy and literature. In 2005, the New York Times Book Review published a letter from Trucks criticizing writer Roy Blount, Jr.'s reference to Duane 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."[13]

Personal life and death[edit]

Trucks was married to Melinda Trucks, with whom he had two children, for more than 40 years.[14] He also had two children from a previous marriage and four grandchildren.[15][16]

Trucks was related to other famous musicians. His nephew, guitarist Derek Trucks, is one of the co-founders of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1999. 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, Georgia. He was also a nephew of Virgil Trucks, a Major League Baseball pitcher and coach.[17]

Police reports confirmed that Trucks died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on January 24, 2017, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 69.[3][18][19]


  1. ^ Poe 2008, p. 25.
  2. ^ Poe 2008, p. 26.
  3. ^ a b Grow, Kory (January 25, 2017). "Butch Trucks, Allman Brothers Band Drummer and Co-Founder, Dead at 69". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 25, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Paul 2014, p. xix.
  5. ^ Paul 2014, p. xx.
  6. ^ Poe 2008, p. 110.
  7. ^ "Dickey Betts remembers Duane Allman". Dickeybetts.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  8. ^ Bruce Eder. "The Allman Brothers Band – All Music Guide". AllMusic. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "2010 interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  10. ^ Wright, Jeb (2009). "The Moogis Industry: An Exclusive Interview with Butch Trucks". Classicrockrevisited.com. Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Home - Les Brers". Lesbrersband.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  12. ^ "The Official Site". Butch Trucks and The Freight Train Band. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  13. ^ Trucks, Butch (May 8, 2005). "'Whipping Post'!". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  14. ^ "Allman Bros. drummer Butch Trucks, former Palm Beach resident, dies in...". Palm Beach Daily News. January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  15. ^ Li, David K. (January 26, 2017). "Allman Brothers drummer fatally shot himself in front of wife". Page Six. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  16. ^ Marshall, Barbara (January 25, 2017). "Butch Trucks: Allman Bros. drummer on rock, drugs and getting sober". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Virgil Trucks Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". 
  18. ^ "Police say Allman Brothers drummer Trucks killed himself - News, Sports, Jobs - Altoona Mirror". 
  19. ^ Lambiet, Jose (January 26, 2017). "Police: Allman Brothers Drummer’s Death Was a Suicide". www.miamiherald.com. Miami Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  • Paul, Alan (2014). One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250040497. 
  • Poe, Randy (2008). Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-939-8. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Freeman, Scott. Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band, Little, Brown & Co. 1995.

External links[edit]