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BUTCH TRUCKS,
1947-2017

Drummer Butch Trucks, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band who played with the group throughout its entire 45-year run, committed suicide Tuesday in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 69.

His wife, Melinda, four children and four grandchildren released a statement saying “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.”

Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow issued the following statement:

"Claude “Butch” Trucks was a legend of Southern rock, known as a lifelong founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band. He played a crucial role in developing the group's signature sound, creating the road map for a brand of rock that was followed by countless other bands. He and the rest of the Allman Brothers Band earned a GRAMMY® Award for Best Rock Performance for 1995 and a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Our deepest condolences go out to Butch’s family, friends, and creative collaborators." 

Trucks met Duane and Gregg Allman while performing with the group Bitter Ind in  Jacksonville, Fla., where he was a college student. A few years after meeting, the Allmans, who were then playing with Jai Johanny Johanson, decided to add a second drummer, emulating the bands of James Brown.

“We got into this jam that started out as a little shuffle and lasted about two hours,” Trucks told HITSBud Scoppa for Uncut magazine. “And I mean, it just went everywhere. We were all playing so far above any level that we had ever played before, and all this communication was flyin’ around. We finally finished, and I’d been through all these changes of chill bumps and tears, just feelings that I’d never felt before.

“I looked over at Jaimoe and I said, ‘Man, did you get off on that’? He just smiled. Then Duane walked to the door and said, ‘All right, anybody in this room who ain’t gonna play in my band, you’re gonna have to fight your way out the door.’

“Duane was this messianic character and if I hadn’t met him, I’d probably be teaching math at some junior high school. He reached inside me and flicked the switch that turned me on. He just completely changed my whole attitude about music, life, everything.”

Trucks’ role was to provide power and strength in the rhythm section, powering songs such as “Whipping Post,” “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” and “Trouble No More.” The Allmans first recorded in 1969, came and went in the late 1970s until breaking up in 1979 and re-formed in 1989, running 25 years with a handful of lineup changes until they retired with a series of final gigs at the Beacon Theater in late 2014.

Since then, Trucks has been leading two bands. He performed Allmans material in Les Brers with Jaimoe, Allmans percussionist Marc Quinones, former Allmans guitarist Jack Pearson and Lamar Williams Jr., son of the late Allmans bassist. He was also leading The Freight Train Band, which was scheduled to start a tour in March having wrapped a string of dates earlier this month.

Born Claude Hudson Trucks was born in Jacksonville, Fla., he played in two bands while in high school—The Vikings and The Echoes—and played tympani in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Jacksonville Symphonette.

Trucks' nephew Derek Trucks played with the Allmans during the last 15 years of its existence while leading his own groups. Another nephew, Duane Trucks, plays with Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans. Trucks' oldest son, Vaylor, is part of the Yeti Trio

Trucks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1994.

 

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