Butch Trucks, founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, dies at 69
Butch Trucks, a co-founder and drummer for the Allman Brothers Band, passed away Tuesday night at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, his booking agent, Page Stallings, told CNN. Trucks was 69.
Trucks fell in love with playing the drums as a young man — despite his Baptist parents not wanting him to be involved with secular music. The Jacksonville, Florida, native was raised in a strict religious home.
In an interview with Classic Bands, Trucks said he briefly worked a “straight job” before linking up with what would become the Allman Brothers Band in 1969.
“About a week into that job, Duane and Gregg [Allman] were in town playing with the Allman Joys and I got a call from ’em saying their drummer had just quit, and they wanted me to come fill in, so I did,” Trucks said. “I filled in for a couple of nights. After a couple of nights they said, ‘Hey, your band is great. You guys like Bob Dylan? This club owner loves Bob Dylan. You played Dylan, Byrds, and that kind of thing. Why don’t you guys audition and you can all just take over our gig for us?’ So we did and the club owner loved us, and we wound up working there for the next two years.”
That came after promising live gigs around the South and a disastrous stint in Los Angeles, where a record label had tried to mold them into a psychedelic rock band.
Gregg became the band’s chief songwriter, while Duane, who had played on records by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett as a session picker, was its guitar whiz and de facto leader.
For years, Trucks and drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson kept the beat side by side.
The Allman Brothers Band eventually settled in Macon, Georgia, and are widely considered among the pioneers of Southern rock.
In 2016, Trucks told Forbes that becoming stars in the music industry was one of the worst things that could have happened.
“The music became secondary to being rock stars,” he said. “The sex and drugs outweighed the rock and roll.”
Duane Allman died in a Macon motorcycle crash in 1971. Bassist Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle crash the following year
The Allman Brothers continued to play on — breaking up and reuniting multiple times in the decades that followed.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
They retired in 2014, but Trucks still performed with his son Vaylor and Oakley’s son Berry Jr. as a part of Freight Train Band. His nephew, Derek Trucks, also has had a successful music career.
“Something happens when the music starts and all that tiredness just goes away,” Butch Trucks said about performing in his 60s. “When it’s going like that, I’ll take on any 20-year-old hot-shot drummer who wants to try me. In those hours, I’m just soaring.”
CNN’s Brandon Griggs contributed to this report.
By Lisa Respers France