by Kerry Torpey `20
On Jan. 24, Butch Trucks, the drummer and co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band, died following a self-inflicted gunshot at the age of 69. Trucks leaves behind a long legacy as a member of one of the most successful rock bands in history.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida on May 11, 1947, Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks began his career as a drummer in the eighth grade. When he entered high school at Englewood High School, Trucks made first chair in the band as a freshman.
Truck’s parents were devout Baptists and refused to buy him his own drum set until his junior year of high school in which they made him promise to not play at any establishment that supplied alcohol.
Prior to graduating high school, Trucks was a member of two bands, The Vikings and The Echoes, and played in both the Jacksonville Symphonette and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
Following graduation, he attended Florida State University for one year where he said he “majored in staying out of Vietnam.”
While at a gig in Daytona Beach with his new band, Bitter Ind., Trucks met Duane and Gregg Allman, who at the time called themselves The Allman Joys. In just a few short years after their meeting, Trucks, Duane, and Gregg would be three of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band.
Duane and Gregg Allman alongside Jai “Jaimoe” Johanson, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, and Trucks founded The Allman Brothers Band in Jacksonville in 1969. Duane and Betts served as guitarists, Gregg as a vocalist, Oakley the bassist, and Johanson as a drummer alongside Trucks. Duane and Oakley tragically died in motorcycle accidents in 1971 and 1972, respectively.
Their first self-titled album was released in 1969 with a small amount of success despite the presence one of their most popular songs, “Whipping Post,” on the album. A mass amount of achievement, however, would come with their 1971 album, At Fillmore East, which went platinum.
The Allman Brothers Band would go on to release several successful albums, such as Eat a Peach (1972) and Brothers and Sisters (1973), which included hits “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica.” Between 1969 and 2014, the band split up multiple times, but Trucks, unlike other members, returned for every reunion.
Following their final appearence in 2014 at the Beacon Theater in New York City, Trucks continued making music with his band Butch Trucks & The Freight Train Band.
In 2016, Trucks did an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone about his time in The Allman Brother’s Band. Trucks said, “We were in another universe. We were out spreading the gospel of this music we had discovered. We never thought that we would be more than an opening act.”
Upon his death, Gregg Allman issued a statement about his late friend and former bandmate. “I’m heartbroken,” said Allman, “I’ve lost another brother and it hurts beyond words.”
Guitarist for the band following the first reunion in 1989 was Warren Haynes, who said “[Butch] put 110 percent of his self into every song he played. He was the Lou Gehrig of rock drummers.”
Trucks is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren, as well as his eternal legacy as athe drummer for one of the biggest bands in history.