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Butch Trucks of The Allman Brothers Band photographed on March 16, 2011 in New York City.
Originally published for Billboard on 1/25/2017 by
The Allman Brothers Band co-founder Butch Trucks has passed away at the age of 69.
No cause of death has yet been revealed for Trucks, who played drums alongside Jai “Jaimoe” Johnny Johanson throughout the Allmans’ 46-year on-and-off history. He died Tuesday evening (Jan. 24) in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Trucks told Billboard last year that he “was a good drummer and didn’t know it” when the late Duane Allman approached him to be in the band, crediting Allman with bringing him out of his shell and into rock ‘n’ roll stardom.
“I was about to head back to school and get a degree in math and teach…when Duane knocked on my door with Jaimoe, and then the Allman Brothers happened,” Trucks recalled. “Duane decided he wanted two drummers — he told Jaimoe, ‘If James Brown can have two drummers, so can I!’ — and Jaimoe kept telling me, ‘Butch is your guy. Butch is the guy!'”
He continued, “We had all these jams, and I think Duane decided that he was gonna find out what I was made of…It’s like he reached inside of me and flipped a switch and this light went off in me and said, ‘Dammit, you’re a good drummer!’ Once I started doing that Duane said, ‘OK, he’s got it in him’ and he added me to the mix and changed my life forever.”
Trucks was born Claude Hudson Trucks in Jacksonville, Fla. and played in local bands such as the Vikings, the Echoes and the Bitter Ind, along with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the Jacksonville Symphonette and ensembles at Florida State University, where he studied. After the Allmans’ retired for good (supposedly) in 2014, Trucks formed Les Brers with Allmans with Jaimoe, Allmans percussionist Marc Quinones former Allmans guitarist Jack Pearson and Lamar Williams Jr., son of the late Allmans bassist, to continue playing the band’s music.
Trucks’ nephew Derek Trucks played with the Allmans from 199-2014, while another nephew and Derek’s younger brother Duane Trucks plays with Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans. Butch Trucks’ oldest son, Vaylor, is part of the Yeti Trio.
Trucks is the third member of the original Allmans to pass away: Duane Allman died after a 1971 motorcycle crash at the age of 24, and bassist Berry Oakley was killed in a similar accident at the same age less than 13 months later. Trucks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1994.
Other musicians began reacting as word of Trucks’ death spread Wednesday morning. Jason Isbell was among the first, tweeting, “Awfully sad to hear of the passing of Butch Trucks. A deserving legend with a family full of ridiculously talented and truly sweet people.”
Trucks is survived by his wife, Melinda, their four children and four grandchildren, as well as all of the (most recent) Allman Brothers Band members and road crew. 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.