The passing of Butch Trucks.

A few days ago I heard the Butch Trucks had taken his own life. I couldn’t believe it yet there it was. I’ll never understand. I was fortunate to spend time with Butch while playing bass in his group, the Allman Brothers Band.

Butch once told me…

(I paraphrase) – Good time (in music) is important. Better not to rush or drag time in a song. But if your going to do it, it’s better to rush. When you drag you just kill all the energy in the song.

 I use that quote today with groups I play with.


Butch going at it in concert!


But what Butch said wasn’t half as important as to how he played and what I learned from him. In particular the different way to play (and feel) a shuffle. Most drummers play a decent shuffle. Butch was able to change not only the swing in a shuffle (moving the third eighth note in the triplet closer to a sixteenth note) but would simultaneously vary the gate time (note length) of the notes. The effect was a dramatic change in feel say behind a vocal (verse)  and a solo that followed. I miss playing with a drummer that is that nuanced with a shuffle.

And powerful, my god. A freight train is a great description. Solid is an understatement. Yet always musical.

Timpani and Bass. TIMPANI and BASS! Brilliant! Exciting! Unique! His whole body played the timpani and it was a dance of technique, song, and rhythm.

Bass and Timpani improvisation.
Bass and Timpani improvisation.
On the road Butch had a clear head and was frequently the voice of reason in the group. Our conversations back then were really enriching. I was pretty young and green and Butch helped me make sense of the situation I found myself in.


His death is really quite saddening but I celebrate the gift he gave me in allowing me to directly experience his huge talent. He will be missed and remembered.

Continuing with our drums and bass improve.
Continuing with our drums and bass improve.

All photos by Bruce Goldflies.

8 thoughts on “The passing of Butch Trucks.”

  1. Amen. RIP Butch Trucks. You will be missed. Wishing peace to his wife and children.

  2. David…..while it’s very sad what Butch chose to do, I’m glad you learned something from him both musically & professionally!! Although I only met him a few times, he was always cordial & friendly. My husband chose to leave me in the same fashion. Oct 7, 2002. 357. Straight To the heart, while our 9yr & I watched in horror. Here it is 14yrs later & still feels like it just happened. I still don’t have any more insight on that day than I do now. All I know is my husband must’ve felt he had no way out. He wasn’t one to give up. Not easily anyway. He was the love of my life & I will carry this shattered heart forever. Until then, I can look at the child we have n tell her how much I loved her daddy. But I will always wonder why. I think that may b the one question repeated in a survivors mind. I will pray for Melinda n his family for peace, strength n comfort n knowing that one day, probably not any time soon, but one day, she too will get thru this tragedy. Peace

    1. I was so sad to hear about Brother Butch, and then a couple days later, to learn that he had taken his own life was a whole other level of sadness. I have read a lot of personal remembrances about the ABB and the impact their music has had on so many people. anne coleman, I wish you much peace, love, and hope in your life.

  3. Nice. I loved watching Butch’s “body english” when he played the timpani. I met Butch and the others in 1966 when he was in the ABB precursor groups 31st of Feb and Tiffany System. Butch was very friendly back then as he was recently when I had the chance to talk with him again after a Freight Train show. IMHO, Butch was the most accessible member of ABB. Love that guy, the consummate hippie I had the pleasure of meeting way back when in Louisville, Kentucky where long-hairs were as rare as hen’s teeth.

  4. It so saddens me that Butch is gone, and in that way. I hate guns.
    I saw the ABB many times. I got so much joy from them. I still have my own tribute band. I loved watching you on the Alembic, David. I know you have many great memories of playing in the band, and of Butch. Thank you for sharing.
    Rob Waxman

  5. I was saddened to hear of his passing .He chose the manner on which I cannot comment we all have our choices to make …that he chose it to be in front of his wife and son is wrong and cannot be justified

  6. I try not to judge any person who dies at their own hands. Its impossible to know what goes on in another persons mind. It is heartbreaking for anyone to be in so much agony they lose the will to survive. RIP Butch. My heart goes out to your family.

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