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Author: Subject: The Moogis Industry: An Exclusive Interview with Butch Trucks

Zen Peach





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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 09:17 AM
By Jeb Wright

Forty years ago the Allman Brothers released their self-titled debut, proving longhaired, white boys from the South could compose and perform intelligent music, mixing country, blues and jazz and creating their own form of rock n' roll.

Four decades down the road, the band have changed a few members, yet they still retain the same passion and desire to take their music to new heights. They are preparing for the most intense 15 concerts they have ever performed at New York's legendary Beacon Theater. With the special anniversary upon them, the band is inviting anyone and everyone to join them. This year, however, the Allman's will also be steaming all fifteen shows over the Internet using drummer Butch Truck's brainchild, www.moogis.com.

A Beacon show has long been the Holy Grail for fans of the band, and now, instead of the lucky few being allowed to attend, anyone who has the Internet and 125 bucks can watch each note of every show as if they were there. Moogis.com is attempting to take their place as the new technology to bring music fans and bands together. The site already has a free fan community and, if you sign up now, while you are waiting for the Beacon shows, you can enjoy plenty of other Allman Brother shows, both in audio and video formats. It is a daring move for Trucks and one that hopefully will pay off. In this interview, we discuss the possible future of Moogis if the Beacon experiment is successful.

Being that it is also the 40th anniversary of the band, we take the time to discuss, in-depth, the iconic Duane Allman, the band's highs and lows and how Butch feels about his nephew, Derek Trucks, joining the Allman's as well as the recent tour where his nephew played alongside Eric Clapton.

Butch Trucks is a man who will tell you like it is. He is proud of the history that is the Allman Brothers and while no subject is taboo, he does not like talking about Dickie Betts. He loves discussing his latest creation, www.moogis.com though. Read on to learn more about Moogis as well as the Allman Brothers Band.

Jeb: There are two things going on with the Allman's right now. You have the 40th anniversary of the band and you have the Moogis project. Let's start with Moogis. Tell me about the project.

Butch: I started several years ago with an independent record company called Flying Frog Records. With the Allman Brothers, we play 40 to 50 shows a year, which leaves me with half a year without much to do. I just don't like doing nothing; I get very bored. I play World of Warcraft. When you're playing it because you have a couple of hours stuck in a hotel, then that is one thing, but when you're playing it because there is nothing going on in your life, then that is something else.

I came up with the idea of the independent record label, where the artist actually owns part of the company. We came in with that model right as the record industry was falling apart. I started to walk away from it but I got to thinking that the demand for music is not going to go away. Music is part of the human psyche; it is part of who we are. We are going to have to come up with a way that musicians can make a living playing music, or music as we know it, will just disappear. The music industry is going through a Paradigm Shift. During times like these, those who think of a new model will do quite well. The new paradigm is going to be involved with the Internet, because that is where everyone hangs out.

I wanted to create a music community where everyone hangs out. I am a computer geek. I go all the way back to a 480LS, before Windows, where you had to use DOS. I used to get a new program or a game and the game was never difficult to play, but it was difficult to get it to work.

Jeb: It was impossible to even load the program onto your computer.

Butch: You always had some type of interrupt conflict. You had those little floppies; that's when I got into it. I think the Allman Brothers' website might be the first fan website in the world. The guy who built it was in MIT's very first Computer Science class. He was a huge Allman Brothers' fan and he had this knowledge of Internet right when it was being offered up to the public.

I have learned that the Internet is where the communities are being formed. When I was a kid, I would go down the street and play baseball. Today, kids come home, get online and hang out with their friends. What doesn't seem to be online anywhere is a real community for music that has enough content to keep everyone's attention. There are sites like www.jambands.com
but it is an information site and not for hanging out. The Allman Brothers Band website is made for hanging out but all you can do is talk to each other. They have one little radio station where you can listen to whatever song is playing, but that is it.

I came up with this idea where we would build this website and we would wire five or six of the best jam band clubs around the country with multiple, high definition cameras and great audio. My idea is that you can go online and watch a concert, every night of the week at one of these clubs, as well as adding hundreds of videos, histories of the top bands and interviews with the players. You could give John Popper or Warren Haynes their own shows and let them do whatever they wanted to do. They could just get on and cuss at everyone if they wanted too.

The cool thing about the Internet is that you can cuss; you can take your clothes off or whatever. I was even thinking of having a topless news show but I learned there is already something called www.nakednews.com. They have these gorgeous girls who tell you the news and strip. It is really quite neat. I am not serious about that, but there are so many different things you can do. What I really want to do is get to the point that the fans can get involved and tell us what they would like us to do.

I spent several years trying to raise the millions needed to do this. Venture capitalists are not completely sold on this. The way you would make this work is to sell a subscription for $9.99 a month. It costs a lot of money to do all of this, so it is just not the kind of website that you can put up for free.

I am very against putting up commercials and a bunch of advertising. I am one of those that are completely convinced that in a decade or so there will be enough bandwidth that NBC, ABC and CBS will be things that we remember from our past. You pay for whatever Cable TV that you have and most of the time there is not a damn thing worth watching. Because the Internet is so big, and there is so much available, eventually, you will have a little box that connects the Internet straight to your high definition televisions at five Megs or so. The little box will allow you to go where you want to go, like Netflicks if you want to get a movie, or Moogis.com if you want to see who is playing at one of the clubs.

Jeb: But the debut concerts are a little different than what you are describing.

Butch: We are starting it off with the 40th anniversary of the Allman Brothers and our Beacon Theater run. If it is successful enough, then I already have two or three venture capitalists ready to step in and take this to phase two.

Jeb: I know you have invested a huge amount of time in this project but you must have a lot of money tied up in it as well.

Butch: Oh yes. If this works then it is going to be something. Right now, there are a lot of new bands out there that will never see the light of day because they can't afford to keep playing. They have to take jobs selling cars, or whatever, because they can't make a living. With radio stations playing less music and more Rush Limbaugh, the exposure point is not there.

When we started out there was a brand new technology called FM radio and the only thing on there was hippie music and NPR. Because of that, we had an exposure point and were able to be heard around the country and build an audience around the country that was much larger that the two hundred people we were playing to each night. Once the Fillmore East album broke, and was played all over the country, then we had a national audience. It is not possible to do that anymore. What I want to create is a community where bands can have that national audience.

I am talking too much about the future and not enough about what is happening now. What is now is the fifteen Allman Brothers shows for the 40th anniversary, dedicated to the man who started it all, Duane Allman. We have some very special things planned in honor of Duane. We got to thinking about it, and other than saying 'dedicated to a brother' on Eat a Peach, we haven't really done much to show our thanks to him. Without Duane, none of this happens. He started it all and then he set fire to it enough that, even after he died, he was like Jesus and we kept the gospel going. Now, 40 years later, I think it is stronger than it has ever been. I would give anything if he could see and hear what he started.

Jeb: If I want to sign up for the fifteen Allman Brothers shows at the Beacon, how do I do that?

Butch: The site is already up, www.moogis.com. You can go there right now. We have a social site that you can log into and become part of groups and forums right now for free. If you want to watch the Beacon shows, then you have to subscribe. It is $125 for all fifteen shows. We already have the site loaded up with 12 of our shows, going back to 2001. We have about 40 or 50 shows from the last three or four years on audio. We have a lot of people, who have signed up, that have told us that what we already have on there is worth the money and the Beacon shows have not even started.

Once we finish the Beacon shows, we are going to leave the site up until September 30th with the archive off all the Beacon shows so you can watch them over and over, as much as your heart desires. We are streaming it over the Internet...you can't download it. The product actual belongs to the Allman Brothers; we are just getting a license to stream it. We will stream it using an Adobe Flash 10 Player, which is very simple for people to get. We did a lot of experimenting to come up with that. We found there were a lot of people who did not have enough bandwidth to keep from buffering. We found that at 500K you still get an extremely good full screen. When you go hook it up to your flat screen, it even looks better. When you are watching it on the computer, you are only a foot away from it, so you have to have a lot of pixels to get good clarity. When you're watching your television, you're ten or fifteen feet away so you get a lot more clarity with a lot fewer pixels. I put it up on my sixty-five inch and hooked the sound up through my stereo and it looked and sounded fantastic. We want everybody to hook it up and invite friends over to watch it. They can spill beer all over each other and feel like they are at the Beacon.

Jeb: For that price, how many of the shows do you get?

Butch: You get all fifteen.

Jeb: That is not bad.

Butch: Even if you only watched them once, it is about seven bucks a show. A ticket for one show is $130. I am not in this to make a lot of money. I am doing okay. I have been living in Palm Beach long enough now to know that I am not worried about getting rich. These **** s around here are some of the most miserable people I have ever met. You read about the one to two percent of the people who control most of the wealth; well, they are all right here. They are not happy people. It is very stressful holding onto your stuff. I am comfortable. My wife and I have bought an old farmhouse in the south of France that we are going to retire to when the Allman Brothers are through playing. It is just not going to require a whole lot of wealth.

I really want to do this to do something good for the music business. I think that I am in a unique position to do this. There are not a lot of people who have been in the music business as long as I have and know the Internet as well as I do. This is my thing. I want this to be my legacy that I leave behind.

Jeb: The site will stay up until September. What happens in September?

Butch: One of two things will happen. If we have enough subscribers who show enough interest in renewing their subscriptions to where we can afford to maintain the website, and the bandwidth needed to deliver the website, then we may consider offering a renewal for half the cost of the original subscription cost. We will just keep it up until next years Beacon run. If there is not enough demand, then we will just have to shut it down and leave it sitting there and crank it up again next March. We will have to wait and see. Our focus right now is to get this Beacon going strong and making it as good as we can possible make it. I have to not let Moogis get me too distracted from the music. I am delegating as much as I can so once the show starts I can concentrate on playing the drums and trust that everyone will keep things going the way they should be going. I have put together a very good team.

Jeb: Okay, Butch, I am going to be the Devil's advocate. Why not just do a Pay Per View on Cable TV?

Butch: That is not what we are talking about; you missed my point. You pay a lot of money for a Pay Per View and you see it one time and then it is over. We are not trying to do that. We are trying to create a music community. We want people who can't make it to New York to have an idea of what it is like to experience the Beacon run. Once it is over then they will go to the social site and talk to each other about what happened that night. People will start getting to know each other and they will build the community around themselves. Unlike a Pay Per View, you will be able to watch it over and over for the next six months.

We have been approached by two or three cable Pay Per View companies and what they want from us, we are just not going to give them. They want everything and we don't get much in return. All we are asking from the Allman Brothers is the right to stream and they own all of the content. We do all of the production but at the end of the day, they own it. They can decide to put it out as a box set someday if they want too. All we are doing is putting up a site, that for a subscription fee, you can watch these streams.

Jeb: If this goes then the future could be pretty exciting. You could do some really unique and cool stuff and still allow the artists to make money and gain ownership of their product.

Butch: If this kind of model catches on then the sky is the limit. You can do anything you want with this. The bottom line is that the bands maintain ownership of their product. All of our master tapes and music belongs to Universal. We make a little bit of nothing off of that. Moogis will make what they make off of subscriptions but the bands get the product. It is 100% theirs and they can do whatever they want with it. If the Allman Brothers masters were ours then we would be extremely wealthy people. I love this whole concept of being able to put this up and letting the public see a whole lot for not much money. If this model, with streaming the Beacon run is successful, then one day we can get to the point of where the website will be constantly changing everyday and more bands will be joining in and people will have more content than they can imagine.

Jeb: On the website there is a shark.

Butch: Our webmistress discovered that. It is called the frilled shark. It has the longest gestation period of any animal in the world, at three and a half years. It took me five years to get Moogis built so we blew the frilled shark out of the water, so we made him one of our mascots.

Jeb: That art on the site is also done by one of my favorite artists, IOANNIS.

Butch: He did all of the artwork. He is very talented and I will keep using him. I just hope that these inventors are wrong. My one fear is that people are so used to getting everything for free on the Internet that they won't want to pay for anything. A lot of the venture capitalists feel the same way. They feel the younger audience on the Internet feel entitled to whatever they want and will not pay. If that is true, then I can tell you that the music business is dead. It is just a matter of time before everyone quits going into the studio and making new albums. If everyone is stealing music then why should anyone go in the studio and pay money to make an album? If musicians can't make a living over the Internet-I am afraid it is the last place to go. There may be a few bands that can ride it out playing live concerts, but not many can. Music on the Internet will be nothing but a bunch of amateurs throwing their stuff up for free because the pros will quit doing it. The kids who are stealing music now will find themselves without any music. They are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

We see our record sales plummeting but we can play live concerts and make a living. A band that does not have an audience, or a substantial back catalog, will not be able to make a living touring. If people are not willing to pay a subscription fee to get a site like mine up, then there will not be anyplace where good musicians are going to come. We will see. The jury is still out.

By the way, Moogis is what my son, when he was about two years old, called music. He used to say, "Dad, I want to listen to some moogis." I have called music 'moogis' ever since. Plus, I think it fits in with Google and Yahoo and all the other silly names that are out there.

Jeb: Since this is the 40th anniversary, who will be making guest appearances at the Beacon?

Butch: We always have guests at The Beacon. We like to surprise people. This year, every single night is going to be huge. Anyone you can think of that could be there probably will be there. I'm not going to tell you who they are because we promised we would keep it a surprise, but there are some major people showing up. We have not had enough time at rehearsal to work on our own music because we have had to learn thirty or forty songs for the people that we have coming to sit in with us. Every single night we are going to have people up there with us. I will tell you that opening night it will be Levon Helms. We have somebody else coming that night as well. I am just scratching the surface. There are going to be some very special things happening. I am pretty much convinced that once the word gets out about who was at the Beacon the night before then people will start signing up. If we don't have a ton of subscribers before the shows start, then once word gets out who the guests are, we will have them then.

Jeb: Does the 40th Anniversary allow the band time to reflect on Duane and the influence he had on your lives?

Butch: Of course, without Duane, I would be a math teacher in a school somewhere. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is nothing like what I have been through the last forty years. It has been quite a trip and it has been a lot of fun. It has been tragic as well but it has never been boring. I am grateful that I got to meet Duane and got to know him. He was my friend. Beyond that, we have made our contribution to American music. A lot of those following us owe a debt to what we have done. I am very proud of the place that we have in American music.

Jeb: Didn't you play in a band with Duane before the Allman Brothers?

Butch: I played in a band with Duane and Gregg for about six months. I played in a band with Scott Boyer, who was in the band Cowboy. David Brown was the bass player and he ended up playing with Boz Scaggs. The three of us went to high school together and put a band together playing folk rock, like The Byrds and Bob Dylan. Duane and Gregg heard us early on and really loved the band. After their band, The Hour Glass, broke up in California, we ran into them in Daytona and decided to join forces. Actually, that is when we first recorded "Melissa." We broke up and Gregg went back to California and Duane started doing the Mussel Shoals session work. He did that for about six or eight months and he got bored stiff with that kind of work. Duane was not the type to just be in the studio. He formed the Allman Brothers Band, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Jeb: A lot of guys claim they had no idea that they were going to be great when they first played together. I have heard the Allman Brothers knew it was great from the first jam session.

Butch: We knew we had something special-there was no doubt about that at all. We had all been in other bands trying to make hits and we hated it all. We had one record producer that told us, "If you play this stuff for six months then I will have you farting through silk." Six months later, not only were we not farting through silk, we hated the music so much we wouldn't even play it live. It was just god-awful.

I remember some of those early jams with chill bumps and crying. It was just tearing our insides out. We were going to places that we had never been before and playing stuff we didn't know we were capable of playing. It is the old adage that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.

We had Atlantic records going, "What are you kidding? A bunch of white guys from the south just standing there playing music? Forget about it." They used to tell us, "Get that blonde haired kid out from behind the organ, put some velvet pants on him, stick a salami down his pants and let him jump around the stage. If you do that then maybe you've got a chance." We just laughed at them. We were in love with what we were playing. We didn't expect to be commercially successful. We didn't think that many people would catch on to what we were playing.

We were listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane. We all came from different directions but the music was mostly based on blues and rhythm and blues. We started going into a really complex jazz direction. We thought it was too complicated for the average kid to really comprehend. When the Fillmore East album went Gold, you could have knocked us over with a feather. Nobody expected it.

All of the success after Duane died, I am afraid that I am not really all that proud of that section. We were all drunk as hell and were riding in our own limousines. We hardly ever even talked to each other. What made it really special in the early days was gone. For some reason, we were the biggest band in the county. I don't even remember most of the shows because we were so **** ed up. I used to do four or five lines of cocaine, take five or six blue valiums and then drink myself silly before I even went out on stage. I had no idea what I was doing. It couldn't have been good but we were selling out Madison Square Garden four or five nights in a row. I have no idea why.

I sobered up about twenty-six years ago. I don't even take an aspirin before I play-nobody does. Everyone in the band is totally sober now. It is just wonderful. You are up there with a clear head and you can think and understand what is going on. Back to your original question, we knew we had something special. We also knew we were not going to compromise to be successful.

Jeb: You knew what you had and were just pushing ahead.

Butch: We were doing it for ourselves. In the early days, we would play some concerts where it was obvious that people weren't liking it. We would just drop a barrier between the audience and us and just play for ourselves. If we were not playing a concert then we were in a park somewhere playing. The music was so special that we had to be playing it all the time, everyday. We might take a few days off a year but not more than a few days. It was nonstop the first couple of years. If we had a gig on Sunday in Boston then we would set up the day before in the Boston Commons, crank up a generator and just play. Whoever happened to be around could listen. Back then you could do that but you can't do that anymore.

Jeb: Did the success change Duane or did he stay focused?

Butch: Duane had already had a certain level of success with the "Layla" sessions and the stuff he did with Wilson Pickett. People knew who he was. Duane was a very self confident and self-contained man. He would try everything. He tried every drug there was until he realized that it was messing with his music. As soon as he realized it was messing with his music then he would stop and never do it again. I saw him go through different periods with speed and even with smack. He never stuck a needle in himself but he would snort it.

I remember a confrontation we had one night in San Francisco. He came up to my room and got in my face. He said, "You guys really pour it on when Dickie plays but when I play you don't do anything." It is one of the first times I ever looked him right back in the eye and I said, "Duane, you're not giving us anything. You're so **** ed up on the damn smack that you're not giving us anything." He stood there and looked at me for a few moments and then turned around and walked out. He never touched smack again. He knew I was telling him the truth. I think he knew before he even came up there but he just needed somebody to tell him. I told him. This was about three months before he died. We had some great shows after that because he straightened up. After that, we did the first part of Eat a Peach and everybody was straight. You can tell when you hear sober music. You can tell when everyone has sober thinking and had their head screwed on. We had many, many years where we played shows that were really embarrassing because we were really, really **** ed up. The crowd loved it for some reason; they can't tell the difference, but I can tell.

Jeb: How did you learn that Duane had been in a motorcycle accident?

Butch: I was painting my bedroom. My wife and I had a house separate than everyone else. We had a child, a son, and she was pregnant with our second child. I got a call from Red Dog and he told me that Duane had been in a wreck and that I had better get to the hospital because it was bad. I dropped everything and went to the hospital and when I got there he was still alive. There was some idiot intern that kept telling us that since he had got to this point and was still alive that he would probably be alright. The doctor came in and told us not to pay any attention to that guy. Finally, one of the other guys and myself went out to get a few jugs of wine and when we got back we came in the back door and one of the guys said, "He's dead." I just dropped everything I had in my hands and ran to find my wife and the other guys. It was just too much to handle.

There were no tears; it was just shock. A few weeks later I was listening to one of the last things Duane recorded before the Eat A Peach sessions. It was that Cowboy tune called "Please Be With Me." Eric Clapton also recorded it. Duane played this beautiful dobro on it. I started listening to that song and it all finally came out. I couldn't move for an hour. I was wracked in tears and I just kept listening to that song over and over and over. I still can't listen to that song without getting emotional.

Jeb: Did losing Berry Oakley such a short time after Duane break the will of the band? Is that what lead to the personal excess?

Butch: No, to be honest with you, when Berry died it was almost a relief. Berry could not even envision a world without Duane Allman. He worshiped him. The year between Duane's death and Berry's death, Berry was in so much pain that he just stayed drunk and high all the time. Just before he died, he was starting to come out with some ideas of what he was going to do and he was starting to try to carry on. Lavar Williams came into the band and Chuck Leavell came into the band and, for a little while, there was a real spark. Brothers & Sisters shot to the top of the charts and we started selling out everywhere. It lasted for a while. Lavar was a great bass player and Chuck is a hell of a keyboard player and we were playing some great music for a while. Little by little, it just slipped into this netherworld of rock stardom. It was a total fantasy. By 1974, it was a scam; it was a total joke. We were a total mess.

Jeb: You were young men and you lost the papa bear of the group. It is a miracle you didn't self-destruct. Well, you did with the drugs and the booze but I mean the band.

Butch: We thought about it. We were going to take six months off to think about what we were going to do. After two or three weeks, we were walking around ready to blow our brains out. The way a musician lets out his grief is through his music. We finally all got together and said, "This is too good. We have come too far. We've got to keep playing." Within six weeks of Duane's death, we were back on the road playing again. We really had no choice. We couldn't walk away from this thing that we had built. We had built a family and it was so deep and there was so much of a bond...the music was so much of a part of who we were that we couldn't let it go. It lasted until the fame really hit. Once the fame hit then everybody lost it. We were suddenly rich and famous and everybody was telling us how great we were. In the early '70's, the groupies were gorgeous and they would do anything just to hang out with you. We lost touch of who we were. We lost touch that it was supposed to be about the music. We lost touch with life. Everybody became so **** ed up and it really got crazy.

I got very lucky in late 1975 when I met a woman who was not part of that scene; she was a 2nd grade teacher from Tennessee. I spent a lot of time with her. I would wake up in the morning and ask her what I did the night before and she would tell me that I was an **** , just like I always was when I get drunk. My first reaction was to kick her out but I thought about it and I said, "That girl is right." I called her up and said, "I would like to marry you but only if I can go six months without drinking." I did and we got married. We just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary a few days ago. That might be a record for a rock n' roll drummer.

Jeb: I love the way Dickie plays guitar. It sounds to me like you all grew up but Dickie did not so he had to go. When you go to replace an original member like Dickie Betts then that is a huge gamble with your career and credibility.

Butch: We knew that. At the time, it was either do that or put the whole thing up. I am not going to get into the reasons, or the blames, of why we had to do that. It had gotten to the point where we just could not continue with the way that it was--it just couldn't. It had reached a point to where it was all going to fall apart or he was going to have to change. It wasn't a question of if we were going to have to replace him. He was going to have to change his behavior and he refused to do it-that is what we told him. He talks about being fired but he was never fired. We told him to get some help and to get himself together and then we could get continue doing this. Rather than getting help, he got a lawyer and sued us. Once that was done then that kind of put the last nail in the coffin. It wasn't what we wanted. There was so much there, and so many shared experiences, but it just reached a point to where we couldn't continue on the way it was going. I couldn't continue playing with him. It just got very sick-that is a subject I would just as soon not talk about.

Jeb: It is ironic that out of the ashes of that relationship came new life for the band.

Butch: We were all surprised. We knew when we went out without Dickie it would be tough. We expected the crowds to dwindle, and they did for about a year. Now, they are better than they have been since the mid-seventies. The Beacon sells out all fifteen shows. We could probably sell out twenty or twenty-five Beacon shows but we find that after fifteen we are all pretty tired. We are not as young as we used to be.

Jeb: With your nephew Derek and Warren Haynes...you have had some great players in the band but these two guitar players are both amazing. The magic is there right now.

Butch: I'm telling you that it is. More than anything, we have learned to communicate with each other on a personal basis, which was something that we had a very difficult time doing with each other after Duane died. Duane was such a powerful personality that he was the leader because he was naturally a leader-not because he demanded it. He put the band together and said, "We are equal partners together." He gave everybody and equal vote in whatever we did. Still, whatever Duane wanted to do is what we did. After he died, that kind of personality didn't exist anymore. We had other types of personalities in the band but none of them were as strong as Duane's. We ran into a lot of problems, which are well documented, so I won't get into them. I will say that the last four years I have had more fun that I have had since before Duane died.

Everyone decided to grow up instead of walking around with a chip on their shoulder. No one is getting off stage mad and creating all these bad vibes anymore. If there is an issue, then we just call a meeting and we sit down and talk about it and get it all out in the open. It is usually always trivial. It is like, "Oh, I didn't know that bothered you. I won't do that anymore." Everybody gets on stage and we are all smiling and looking at each other. Everyone has respect for each other now. We just don't have bad nights anymore. It is a situation where we have some nights that are better than others, but we don't have bad nights.

Jeb: You must be very proud of your nephew.

Butch: My nephew is just scary. I have played with a lot of really good guitar players. And with every one of them, I start figuring out what they are going to do...even with Duane. There are certain patterns they play that lead to something else and you kind of get used to what they are going to do. After all the years of playing with Derek, I still don't have the faintest idea of what he is going to do. Every time he starts off his solo in "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," he comes from a different direction. He never does the same thing twice. What that says about the depth of his musical knowledge is scary. He is only 28 years old; he is just getting started.

I saw him three or four times when he was playing with Eric Clapton. I have to tell you that I got teary-eyed. The only time during Clapton's show that the crowd came up out of their chair and screamed was when Derek played his guitar solo. Towards the end of the show, the lights went down and Derek and bass player were playing the 12 bar blues. After about four progressions, he was up around the top of his guitar, the band was going full tilt, the audience was on their feet and the roof was raised about three feet.

Eric was playing great but he has reached a point where he is just phoning it in. He is still great, Eric Clapton is still goddamn Eric Clapton; without him it never happened. Without Cream, we never happened. The passion that he used play with is not there anymore and with Derek it is. In fact, that is what attracted Eric to him. We all are attracted to that with Derek. All of us are still into it and we still have the passion. I am playing with as much passion than I have ever played with and I am 61 years old with a metal right knee.

Jeb: Last one: You created Southern Rock and then created the whole Jam Band thing. Who else had started two genres of music?

Butch: I don't even know what any of that even means. I know you have to have labels but how in the world you can compare the Allman Brothers with Lynyrd Skynyrd, I don't know. We are a band from the south that plays rock music, so we are Southern Rock. We are a band that jams, so call us a Jam Band. I guess you have to have labels because they are needed. We are obviously not a punk band and we are damn sure not a rap band. I like to think that we are just a very loud jazz band-that is a very small genre. You won't find a lot of those around.

http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/interviewbutchtrucks09.htm

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 09:31 AM
A few quotes I found interesting. Butch is not afraid to tell it like it is.

"Eric was playing great but he has reached a point where he is just phoning it in"

"He was going to have to change his behavior and he refused to do it-that is what we told him. He talks about being fired but he was never fired. We told him to get some help and to get himself together and then we could get continue doing this. Rather than getting help, he got a lawyer and sued us. Once that was done then that kind of put the last nail in the coffin. It wasn't what we wanted. There was so much there, and so many shared experiences, but it just reached a point to where we couldn't continue on the way it was going. I couldn't continue playing with him. It just got very sick-that is a subject I would just as soon not talk about."

I will tell you that opening night it will be Levon Helms. We have somebody else coming that night as well.




 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 09:50 AM
nice article

thanks IP

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 09:52 AM
Thanks, that's alot of interview to pour over. It is surprising Moogis has not been discussed in the media more. It may not be unique, but it's close to groundbreaking.
 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 10:43 AM
Thanks, good article!

He's got EC nailed.

Not sure about starting the jam band genre.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 10:52 AM
Old Butch is pretty full of himself. Hey Butch, wanna make a wager on the financial success of Moogis?
 

Peach Master



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:07 AM
Nice article.

Considering the EC/Beacon rumors I'm a little surprised he'd say EC was 'phoning it in', but what do I know.

And Butch should be proud of Moogis, and his band, and what he's accomplished over the last 40 yrs.

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:19 AM
Good interview with Butch.

Couple of things he said leave me to believe that the ABB won't be recording another CD.

quote:
It is just a matter of time before everyone quits going into the studio and making new albums. If everyone is stealing music then why should anyone go in the studio and pay money to make an album?

There may be a few bands that can ride it out playing live concerts, but not many can.

The kids who are stealing music now will find themselves without any music. They are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

We see our record sales plummeting but we can play live concerts and make a living. A band that does not have an audience, or a substantial back catalog, will not be able to make a living touring.


 

Peach Master



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:29 AM
quote:
Old Butch is pretty full of himself. Hey Butch, wanna make a wager on the financial success of Moogis?


Don't be a dick....
If every artist/businessman/scientist/innovator listened to little negative people, then nothing much would ever get done or developed.

The guy and his team have worked hard on this project, he's trying to create an alternative in music delivery, for both young and older bands, and he has confidence in this concept. And you have a problem with that? how small of you...

I think Butch is being completely realistic about this project. Even in the interview, the writer asked what he would do in September if it didn't work, and he was open about that.

The key here regarding success is what happens if Phase II is begun. My guess is thats the wiring of various clubs to be incorporated into the Moogis design. If the fans don't support this Beacon run, then the investors won't pony up. If the numbers are there, and the plan viable, they'll move forward. Simple as that.

Rock and Roll? thats just a fad, it'll fade away....

TV? ahhhhh, a 5 inch screen and no reception, it'll be a flop....

A music channel that shows videos all day? that'll never work....

A device that consolidates archive records, creates spreadsheets and other administrative output, that lets you play video games on it (a PC), too limited, a rich person's luxury toy, it'll never catch on....

Moogis may not be a financial success, but it certain has to be a personal success for Butch because after 5 years, its online and running. If it goes under, its legacy just maybe in influencing someone else to look at its successes and failures, and try to create something better. Maybe Moogis is TOO ahead of its time, or maybe its just the right time for it (although I will say financial conditions in this country aren't exactly prime for a roll out, but when its a go, its a go)

Whether Moogis works or not, Butch and crew have given it a good go, and as Butch noted, when its all said and done, he's retiring to the South of France anyway regardless....

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:39 AM
quote:
By Jeb Wright

Forty years ago the Allman Brothers released their self-titled debut, proving longhaired, white boys from the South could compose and perform intelligent music, mixing country, blues and jazz and creating their own form of rock n' roll.

Four decades down the road, the band have changed a few members, yet they still retain the same passion and desire to take their music to new heights. They are preparing for the most intense 15 concerts they have ever performed at New York's legendary Beacon Theater. With the special anniversary upon them, the band is inviting anyone and everyone to join them. This year, however, the Allman's will also be steaming all fifteen shows over the Internet using drummer Butch Truck's brainchild, www.moogis.com.

A Beacon show has long been the Holy Grail for fans of the band, and now, instead of the lucky few being allowed to attend, anyone who has the Internet and 125 bucks can watch each note of every show as if they were there. Moogis.com is attempting to take their place as the new technology to bring music fans and bands together. The site already has a free fan community and, if you sign up now, while you are waiting for the Beacon shows, you can enjoy plenty of other Allman Brother shows, both in audio and video formats. It is a daring move for Trucks and one that hopefully will pay off. In this interview, we discuss the possible future of Moogis if the Beacon experiment is successful.

Being that it is also the 40th anniversary of the band, we take the time to discuss, in-depth, the iconic Duane Allman, the band's highs and lows and how Butch feels about his nephew, Derek Trucks, joining the Allman's as well as the recent tour where his nephew played alongside Eric Clapton.

Butch Trucks is a man who will tell you like it is. He is proud of the history that is the Allman Brothers and while no subject is taboo, he does not like talking about Dickie Betts. He loves discussing his latest creation, www.moogis.com though. Read on to learn more about Moogis as well as the Allman Brothers Band.

Jeb: There are two things going on with the Allman's right now. You have the 40th anniversary of the band and you have the Moogis project. Let's start with Moogis. Tell me about the project.

Butch: I started several years ago with an independent record company called Flying Frog Records. With the Allman Brothers, we play 40 to 50 shows a year, which leaves me with half a year without much to do. I just don't like doing nothing; I get very bored. I play World of Warcraft. When you're playing it because you have a couple of hours stuck in a hotel, then that is one thing, but when you're playing it because there is nothing going on in your life, then that is something else.

I came up with the idea of the independent record label, where the artist actually owns part of the company. We came in with that model right as the record industry was falling apart. I started to walk away from it but I got to thinking that the demand for music is not going to go away. Music is part of the human psyche; it is part of who we are. We are going to have to come up with a way that musicians can make a living playing music, or music as we know it, will just disappear. The music industry is going through a Paradigm Shift. During times like these, those who think of a new model will do quite well. The new paradigm is going to be involved with the Internet, because that is where everyone hangs out.

I wanted to create a music community where everyone hangs out. I am a computer geek. I go all the way back to a 480LS, before Windows, where you had to use DOS. I used to get a new program or a game and the game was never difficult to play, but it was difficult to get it to work.

Jeb: It was impossible to even load the program onto your computer.

Butch: You always had some type of interrupt conflict. You had those little floppies; that's when I got into it. I think the Allman Brothers' website might be the first fan website in the world. The guy who built it was in MIT's very first Computer Science class. He was a huge Allman Brothers' fan and he had this knowledge of Internet right when it was being offered up to the public.

I have learned that the Internet is where the communities are being formed. When I was a kid, I would go down the street and play baseball. Today, kids come home, get online and hang out with their friends. What doesn't seem to be online anywhere is a real community for music that has enough content to keep everyone's attention. There are sites like www.jambands.com
but it is an information site and not for hanging out. The Allman Brothers Band website is made for hanging out but all you can do is talk to each other. They have one little radio station where you can listen to whatever song is playing, but that is it.

I came up with this idea where we would build this website and we would wire five or six of the best jam band clubs around the country with multiple, high definition cameras and great audio. My idea is that you can go online and watch a concert, every night of the week at one of these clubs, as well as adding hundreds of videos, histories of the top bands and interviews with the players. You could give John Popper or Warren Haynes their own shows and let them do whatever they wanted to do. They could just get on and cuss at everyone if they wanted too.

The cool thing about the Internet is that you can cuss; you can take your clothes off or whatever. I was even thinking of having a topless news show but I learned there is already something called www.nakednews.com. They have these gorgeous girls who tell you the news and strip. It is really quite neat. I am not serious about that, but there are so many different things you can do. What I really want to do is get to the point that the fans can get involved and tell us what they would like us to do.

I spent several years trying to raise the millions needed to do this. Venture capitalists are not completely sold on this. The way you would make this work is to sell a subscription for $9.99 a month. It costs a lot of money to do all of this, so it is just not the kind of website that you can put up for free.

I am very against putting up commercials and a bunch of advertising. I am one of those that are completely convinced that in a decade or so there will be enough bandwidth that NBC, ABC and CBS will be things that we remember from our past. You pay for whatever Cable TV that you have and most of the time there is not a damn thing worth watching. Because the Internet is so big, and there is so much available, eventually, you will have a little box that connects the Internet straight to your high definition televisions at five Megs or so. The little box will allow you to go where you want to go, like Netflicks if you want to get a movie, or Moogis.com if you want to see who is playing at one of the clubs.

Jeb: But the debut concerts are a little different than what you are describing.

Butch: We are starting it off with the 40th anniversary of the Allman Brothers and our Beacon Theater run. If it is successful enough, then I already have two or three venture capitalists ready to step in and take this to phase two.

Jeb: I know you have invested a huge amount of time in this project but you must have a lot of money tied up in it as well.

Butch: Oh yes. If this works then it is going to be something. Right now, there are a lot of new bands out there that will never see the light of day because they can't afford to keep playing. They have to take jobs selling cars, or whatever, because they can't make a living. With radio stations playing less music and more Rush Limbaugh, the exposure point is not there.

When we started out there was a brand new technology called FM radio and the only thing on there was hippie music and NPR. Because of that, we had an exposure point and were able to be heard around the country and build an audience around the country that was much larger that the two hundred people we were playing to each night. Once the Fillmore East album broke, and was played all over the country, then we had a national audience. It is not possible to do that anymore. What I want to create is a community where bands can have that national audience.

I am talking too much about the future and not enough about what is happening now. What is now is the fifteen Allman Brothers shows for the 40th anniversary, dedicated to the man who started it all, Duane Allman. We have some very special things planned in honor of Duane. We got to thinking about it, and other than saying 'dedicated to a brother' on Eat a Peach, we haven't really done much to show our thanks to him. Without Duane, none of this happens. He started it all and then he set fire to it enough that, even after he died, he was like Jesus and we kept the gospel going. Now, 40 years later, I think it is stronger than it has ever been. I would give anything if he could see and hear what he started.

Jeb: If I want to sign up for the fifteen Allman Brothers shows at the Beacon, how do I do that?

Butch: The site is already up, www.moogis.com. You can go there right now. We have a social site that you can log into and become part of groups and forums right now for free. If you want to watch the Beacon shows, then you have to subscribe. It is $125 for all fifteen shows. We already have the site loaded up with 12 of our shows, going back to 2001. We have about 40 or 50 shows from the last three or four years on audio. We have a lot of people, who have signed up, that have told us that what we already have on there is worth the money and the Beacon shows have not even started.

Once we finish the Beacon shows, we are going to leave the site up until September 30th with the archive off all the Beacon shows so you can watch them over and over, as much as your heart desires. We are streaming it over the Internet...you can't download it. The product actual belongs to the Allman Brothers; we are just getting a license to stream it. We will stream it using an Adobe Flash 10 Player, which is very simple for people to get. We did a lot of experimenting to come up with that. We found there were a lot of people who did not have enough bandwidth to keep from buffering. We found that at 500K you still get an extremely good full screen. When you go hook it up to your flat screen, it even looks better. When you are watching it on the computer, you are only a foot away from it, so you have to have a lot of pixels to get good clarity. When you're watching your television, you're ten or fifteen feet away so you get a lot more clarity with a lot fewer pixels. I put it up on my sixty-five inch and hooked the sound up through my stereo and it looked and sounded fantastic. We want everybody to hook it up and invite friends over to watch it. They can spill beer all over each other and feel like they are at the Beacon.

Jeb: For that price, how many of the shows do you get?

Butch: You get all fifteen.

Jeb: That is not bad.

Butch: Even if you only watched them once, it is about seven bucks a show. A ticket for one show is $130. I am not in this to make a lot of money. I am doing okay. I have been living in Palm Beach long enough now to know that I am not worried about getting rich. These **** s around here are some of the most miserable people I have ever met. You read about the one to two percent of the people who control most of the wealth; well, they are all right here. They are not happy people. It is very stressful holding onto your stuff. I am comfortable. My wife and I have bought an old farmhouse in the south of France that we are going to retire to when the Allman Brothers are through playing. It is just not going to require a whole lot of wealth.

I really want to do this to do something good for the music business. I think that I am in a unique position to do this. There are not a lot of people who have been in the music business as long as I have and know the Internet as well as I do. This is my thing. I want this to be my legacy that I leave behind.

Jeb: The site will stay up until September. What happens in September?

Butch: One of two things will happen. If we have enough subscribers who show enough interest in renewing their subscriptions to where we can afford to maintain the website, and the bandwidth needed to deliver the website, then we may consider offering a renewal for half the cost of the original subscription cost. We will just keep it up until next years Beacon run. If there is not enough demand, then we will just have to shut it down and leave it sitting there and crank it up again next March. We will have to wait and see. Our focus right now is to get this Beacon going strong and making it as good as we can possible make it. I have to not let Moogis get me too distracted from the music. I am delegating as much as I can so once the show starts I can concentrate on playing the drums and trust that everyone will keep things going the way they should be going. I have put together a very good team.

Jeb: Okay, Butch, I am going to be the Devil's advocate. Why not just do a Pay Per View on Cable TV?

Butch: That is not what we are talking about; you missed my point. You pay a lot of money for a Pay Per View and you see it one time and then it is over. We are not trying to do that. We are trying to create a music community. We want people who can't make it to New York to have an idea of what it is like to experience the Beacon run. Once it is over then they will go to the social site and talk to each other about what happened that night. People will start getting to know each other and they will build the community around themselves. Unlike a Pay Per View, you will be able to watch it over and over for the next six months.

We have been approached by two or three cable Pay Per View companies and what they want from us, we are just not going to give them. They want everything and we don't get much in return. All we are asking from the Allman Brothers is the right to stream and they own all of the content. We do all of the production but at the end of the day, they own it. They can decide to put it out as a box set someday if they want too. All we are doing is putting up a site, that for a subscription fee, you can watch these streams.

Jeb: If this goes then the future could be pretty exciting. You could do some really unique and cool stuff and still allow the artists to make money and gain ownership of their product.

Butch: If this kind of model catches on then the sky is the limit. You can do anything you want with this. The bottom line is that the bands maintain ownership of their product. All of our master tapes and music belongs to Universal. We make a little bit of nothing off of that. Moogis will make what they make off of subscriptions but the bands get the product. It is 100% theirs and they can do whatever they want with it. If the Allman Brothers masters were ours then we would be extremely wealthy people. I love this whole concept of being able to put this up and letting the public see a whole lot for not much money. If this model, with streaming the Beacon run is successful, then one day we can get to the point of where the website will be constantly changing everyday and more bands will be joining in and people will have more content than they can imagine.

Jeb: On the website there is a shark.

Butch: Our webmistress discovered that. It is called the frilled shark. It has the longest gestation period of any animal in the world, at three and a half years. It took me five years to get Moogis built so we blew the frilled shark out of the water, so we made him one of our mascots.

Jeb: That art on the site is also done by one of my favorite artists, IOANNIS.

Butch: He did all of the artwork. He is very talented and I will keep using him. I just hope that these inventors are wrong. My one fear is that people are so used to getting everything for free on the Internet that they won't want to pay for anything. A lot of the venture capitalists feel the same way. They feel the younger audience on the Internet feel entitled to whatever they want and will not pay. If that is true, then I can tell you that the music business is dead. It is just a matter of time before everyone quits going into the studio and making new albums. If everyone is stealing music then why should anyone go in the studio and pay money to make an album? If musicians can't make a living over the Internet-I am afraid it is the last place to go. There may be a few bands that can ride it out playing live concerts, but not many can. Music on the Internet will be nothing but a bunch of amateurs throwing their stuff up for free because the pros will quit doing it. The kids who are stealing music now will find themselves without any music. They are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

We see our record sales plummeting but we can play live concerts and make a living. A band that does not have an audience, or a substantial back catalog, will not be able to make a living touring. If people are not willing to pay a subscription fee to get a site like mine up, then there will not be anyplace where good musicians are going to come. We will see. The jury is still out.

By the way, Moogis is what my son, when he was about two years old, called music. He used to say, "Dad, I want to listen to some moogis." I have called music 'moogis' ever since. Plus, I think it fits in with Google and Yahoo and all the other silly names that are out there.

Jeb: Since this is the 40th anniversary, who will be making guest appearances at the Beacon?

Butch: We always have guests at The Beacon. We like to surprise people. This year, every single night is going to be huge. Anyone you can think of that could be there probably will be there. I'm not going to tell you who they are because we promised we would keep it a surprise, but there are some major people showing up. We have not had enough time at rehearsal to work on our own music because we have had to learn thirty or forty songs for the people that we have coming to sit in with us. Every single night we are going to have people up there with us. I will tell you that opening night it will be Levon Helms. We have somebody else coming that night as well. I am just scratching the surface. There are going to be some very special things happening. I am pretty much convinced that once the word gets out about who was at the Beacon the night before then people will start signing up. If we don't have a ton of subscribers before the shows start, then once word gets out who the guests are, we will have them then.

Jeb: Does the 40th Anniversary allow the band time to reflect on Duane and the influence he had on your lives?

Butch: Of course, without Duane, I would be a math teacher in a school somewhere. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is nothing like what I have been through the last forty years. It has been quite a trip and it has been a lot of fun. It has been tragic as well but it has never been boring. I am grateful that I got to meet Duane and got to know him. He was my friend. Beyond that, we have made our contribution to American music. A lot of those following us owe a debt to what we have done. I am very proud of the place that we have in American music.

Jeb: Didn't you play in a band with Duane before the Allman Brothers?

Butch: I played in a band with Duane and Gregg for about six months. I played in a band with Scott Boyer, who was in the band Cowboy. David Brown was the bass player and he ended up playing with Boz Scaggs. The three of us went to high school together and put a band together playing folk rock, like The Byrds and Bob Dylan. Duane and Gregg heard us early on and really loved the band. After their band, The Hour Glass, broke up in California, we ran into them in Daytona and decided to join forces. Actually, that is when we first recorded "Melissa." We broke up and Gregg went back to California and Duane started doing the Mussel Shoals session work. He did that for about six or eight months and he got bored stiff with that kind of work. Duane was not the type to just be in the studio. He formed the Allman Brothers Band, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Jeb: A lot of guys claim they had no idea that they were going to be great when they first played together. I have heard the Allman Brothers knew it was great from the first jam session.

Butch: We knew we had something special-there was no doubt about that at all. We had all been in other bands trying to make hits and we hated it all. We had one record producer that told us, "If you play this stuff for six months then I will have you farting through silk." Six months later, not only were we not farting through silk, we hated the music so much we wouldn't even play it live. It was just god-awful.

I remember some of those early jams with chill bumps and crying. It was just tearing our insides out. We were going to places that we had never been before and playing stuff we didn't know we were capable of playing. It is the old adage that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.

We had Atlantic records going, "What are you kidding? A bunch of white guys from the south just standing there playing music? Forget about it." They used to tell us, "Get that blonde haired kid out from behind the organ, put some velvet pants on him, stick a salami down his pants and let him jump around the stage. If you do that then maybe you've got a chance." We just laughed at them. We were in love with what we were playing. We didn't expect to be commercially successful. We didn't think that many people would catch on to what we were playing.

We were listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane. We all came from different directions but the music was mostly based on blues and rhythm and blues. We started going into a really complex jazz direction. We thought it was too complicated for the average kid to really comprehend. When the Fillmore East album went Gold, you could have knocked us over with a feather. Nobody expected it.

All of the success after Duane died, I am afraid that I am not really all that proud of that section. We were all drunk as hell and were riding in our own limousines. We hardly ever even talked to each other. What made it really special in the early days was gone. For some reason, we were the biggest band in the county. I don't even remember most of the shows because we were so **** ed up. I used to do four or five lines of cocaine, take five or six blue valiums and then drink myself silly before I even went out on stage. I had no idea what I was doing. It couldn't have been good but we were selling out Madison Square Garden four or five nights in a row. I have no idea why.

I sobered up about twenty-six years ago. I don't even take an aspirin before I play-nobody does. Everyone in the band is totally sober now. It is just wonderful. You are up there with a clear head and you can think and understand what is going on. Back to your original question, we knew we had something special. We also knew we were not going to compromise to be successful.

Jeb: You knew what you had and were just pushing ahead.

Butch: We were doing it for ourselves. In the early days, we would play some concerts where it was obvious that people weren't liking it. We would just drop a barrier between the audience and us and just play for ourselves. If we were not playing a concert then we were in a park somewhere playing. The music was so special that we had to be playing it all the time, everyday. We might take a few days off a year but not more than a few days. It was nonstop the first couple of years. If we had a gig on Sunday in Boston then we would set up the day before in the Boston Commons, crank up a generator and just play. Whoever happened to be around could listen. Back then you could do that but you can't do that anymore.

Jeb: Did the success change Duane or did he stay focused?

Butch: Duane had already had a certain level of success with the "Layla" sessions and the stuff he did with Wilson Pickett. People knew who he was. Duane was a very self confident and self-contained man. He would try everything. He tried every drug there was until he realized that it was messing with his music. As soon as he realized it was messing with his music then he would stop and never do it again. I saw him go through different periods with speed and even with smack. He never stuck a needle in himself but he would snort it.

I remember a confrontation we had one night in San Francisco. He came up to my room and got in my face. He said, "You guys really pour it on when Dickie plays but when I play you don't do anything." It is one of the first times I ever looked him right back in the eye and I said, "Duane, you're not giving us anything. You're so **** ed up on the damn smack that you're not giving us anything." He stood there and looked at me for a few moments and then turned around and walked out. He never touched smack again. He knew I was telling him the truth. I think he knew before he even came up there but he just needed somebody to tell him. I told him. This was about three months before he died. We had some great shows after that because he straightened up. After that, we did the first part of Eat a Peach and everybody was straight. You can tell when you hear sober music. You can tell when everyone has sober thinking and had their head screwed on. We had many, many years where we played shows that were really embarrassing because we were really, really **** ed up. The crowd loved it for some reason; they can't tell the difference, but I can tell.

Jeb: How did you learn that Duane had been in a motorcycle accident?

Butch: I was painting my bedroom. My wife and I had a house separate than everyone else. We had a child, a son, and she was pregnant with our second child. I got a call from Red Dog and he told me that Duane had been in a wreck and that I had better get to the hospital because it was bad. I dropped everything and went to the hospital and when I got there he was still alive. There was some idiot intern that kept telling us that since he had got to this point and was still alive that he would probably be alright. The doctor came in and told us not to pay any attention to that guy. Finally, one of the other guys and myself went out to get a few jugs of wine and when we got back we came in the back door and one of the guys said, "He's dead." I just dropped everything I had in my hands and ran to find my wife and the other guys. It was just too much to handle.

There were no tears; it was just shock. A few weeks later I was listening to one of the last things Duane recorded before the Eat A Peach sessions. It was that Cowboy tune called "Please Be With Me." Eric Clapton also recorded it. Duane played this beautiful dobro on it. I started listening to that song and it all finally came out. I couldn't move for an hour. I was wracked in tears and I just kept listening to that song over and over and over. I still can't listen to that song without getting emotional.

Jeb: Did losing Berry Oakley such a short time after Duane break the will of the band? Is that what lead to the personal excess?

Butch: No, to be honest with you, when Berry died it was almost a relief. Berry could not even envision a world without Duane Allman. He worshiped him. The year between Duane's death and Berry's death, Berry was in so much pain that he just stayed drunk and high all the time. Just before he died, he was starting to come out with some ideas of what he was going to do and he was starting to try to carry on. Lavar Williams came into the band and Chuck Leavell came into the band and, for a little while, there was a real spark. Brothers & Sisters shot to the top of the charts and we started selling out everywhere. It lasted for a while. Lavar was a great bass player and Chuck is a hell of a keyboard player and we were playing some great music for a while. Little by little, it just slipped into this netherworld of rock stardom. It was a total fantasy. By 1974, it was a scam; it was a total joke. We were a total mess.

Jeb: You were young men and you lost the papa bear of the group. It is a miracle you didn't self-destruct. Well, you did with the drugs and the booze but I mean the band.

Butch: We thought about it. We were going to take six months off to think about what we were going to do. After two or three weeks, we were walking around ready to blow our brains out. The way a musician lets out his grief is through his music. We finally all got together and said, "This is too good. We have come too far. We've got to keep playing." Within six weeks of Duane's death, we were back on the road playing again. We really had no choice. We couldn't walk away from this thing that we had built. We had built a family and it was so deep and there was so much of a bond...the music was so much of a part of who we were that we couldn't let it go. It lasted until the fame really hit. Once the fame hit then everybody lost it. We were suddenly rich and famous and everybody was telling us how great we were. In the early '70's, the groupies were gorgeous and they would do anything just to hang out with you. We lost touch of who we were. We lost touch that it was supposed to be about the music. We lost touch with life. Everybody became so **** ed up and it really got crazy.

I got very lucky in late 1975 when I met a woman who was not part of that scene; she was a 2nd grade teacher from Tennessee. I spent a lot of time with her. I would wake up in the morning and ask her what I did the night before and she would tell me that I was an **** , just like I always was when I get drunk. My first reaction was to kick her out but I thought about it and I said, "That girl is right." I called her up and said, "I would like to marry you but only if I can go six months without drinking." I did and we got married. We just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary a few days ago. That might be a record for a rock n' roll drummer.

Jeb: I love the way Dickie plays guitar. It sounds to me like you all grew up but Dickie did not so he had to go. When you go to replace an original member like Dickie Betts then that is a huge gamble with your career and credibility.

Butch: We knew that. At the time, it was either do that or put the whole thing up. I am not going to get into the reasons, or the blames, of why we had to do that. It had gotten to the point where we just could not continue with the way that it was--it just couldn't. It had reached a point to where it was all going to fall apart or he was going to have to change. It wasn't a question of if we were going to have to replace him. He was going to have to change his behavior and he refused to do it-that is what we told him. He talks about being fired but he was never fired. We told him to get some help and to get himself together and then we could get continue doing this. Rather than getting help, he got a lawyer and sued us. Once that was done then that kind of put the last nail in the coffin. It wasn't what we wanted. There was so much there, and so many shared experiences, but it just reached a point to where we couldn't continue on the way it was going. I couldn't continue playing with him. It just got very sick-that is a subject I would just as soon not talk about.

Jeb: It is ironic that out of the ashes of that relationship came new life for the band.

Butch: We were all surprised. We knew when we went out without Dickie it would be tough. We expected the crowds to dwindle, and they did for about a year. Now, they are better than they have been since the mid-seventies. The Beacon sells out all fifteen shows. We could probably sell out twenty or twenty-five Beacon shows but we find that after fifteen we are all pretty tired. We are not as young as we used to be.

Jeb: With your nephew Derek and Warren Haynes...you have had some great players in the band but these two guitar players are both amazing. The magic is there right now.

Butch: I'm telling you that it is. More than anything, we have learned to communicate with each other on a personal basis, which was something that we had a very difficult time doing with each other after Duane died. Duane was such a powerful personality that he was the leader because he was naturally a leader-not because he demanded it. He put the band together and said, "We are equal partners together." He gave everybody and equal vote in whatever we did. Still, whatever Duane wanted to do is what we did. After he died, that kind of personality didn't exist anymore. We had other types of personalities in the band but none of them were as strong as Duane's. We ran into a lot of problems, which are well documented, so I won't get into them. I will say that the last four years I have had more fun that I have had since before Duane died.

Everyone decided to grow up instead of walking around with a chip on their shoulder. No one is getting off stage mad and creating all these bad vibes anymore. If there is an issue, then we just call a meeting and we sit down and talk about it and get it all out in the open. It is usually always trivial. It is like, "Oh, I didn't know that bothered you. I won't do that anymore." Everybody gets on stage and we are all smiling and looking at each other. Everyone has respect for each other now. We just don't have bad nights anymore. It is a situation where we have some nights that are better than others, but we don't have bad nights.

Jeb: You must be very proud of your nephew.

Butch: My nephew is just scary. I have played with a lot of really good guitar players. And with every one of them, I start figuring out what they are going to do...even with Duane. There are certain patterns they play that lead to something else and you kind of get used to what they are going to do. After all the years of playing with Derek, I still don't have the faintest idea of what he is going to do. Every time he starts off his solo in "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," he comes from a different direction. He never does the same thing twice. What that says about the depth of his musical knowledge is scary. He is only 28 years old; he is just getting started.

I saw him three or four times when he was playing with Eric Clapton. I have to tell you that I got teary-eyed. The only time during Clapton's show that the crowd came up out of their chair and screamed was when Derek played his guitar solo. Towards the end of the show, the lights went down and Derek and bass player were playing the 12 bar blues. After about four progressions, he was up around the top of his guitar, the band was going full tilt, the audience was on their feet and the roof was raised about three feet.

Eric was playing great but he has reached a point where he is just phoning it in. He is still great, Eric Clapton is still goddamn Eric Clapton; without him it never happened. Without Cream, we never happened. The passion that he used play with is not there anymore and with Derek it is. In fact, that is what attracted Eric to him. We all are attracted to that with Derek. All of us are still into it and we still have the passion. I am playing with as much passion than I have ever played with and I am 61 years old with a metal right knee.

Jeb: Last one: You created Southern Rock and then created the whole Jam Band thing. Who else had started two genres of music?

Butch: I don't even know what any of that even means. I know you have to have labels but how in the world you can compare the Allman Brothers with Lynyrd Skynyrd, I don't know. We are a band from the south that plays rock music, so we are Southern Rock. We are a band that jams, so call us a Jam Band. I guess you have to have labels because they are needed. We are obviously not a punk band and we are damn sure not a rap band. I like to think that we are just a very loud jazz band-that is a very small genre. You won't find a lot of those around.

http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/interviewbutchtrucks09.htm



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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:40 AM
Exactly, Efus...
 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:58 AM
I'm sure Moogis is a good ideal...but,i think i'll pass....i thought the "if it's on pay-per View,you can watch it one time & that's it"remark was pretty interesting...when i get stuff on pay-per view,I record it...then i have it forever...you can't record & save the moogis shows...can you? I don't really know.....

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 11:58 AM
quote:
Exactly, Efus...


I second that. I can't believe the negative vibes folks have not noted Dickey's (and Lamar's) misspelled name.

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:02 PM
quote:
quote:
Exactly, Efus...


I second that. I can't believe the negative vibes folks have not noted Dickey's (and Lamar's) misspelled name.


I wrote Lamar's name in a post not long ago...when reading this interview,i though I'd spelled it wrong....glad to see i didn't.

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:21 PM
did anyone catch the nod to rowland??

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:23 PM
After doing interview after interview you guys grab this and pull a line out and run with it. I've been working my butt off to make this happen and a few people that I doubt very seriously have ever created anything in their lives get to sit back and tear it down. Having fun? You gotta admit at least I'm giving you something to do. The quote about Eric's guitar playing these days was taken from an interview where he said that he was not playing with the fire and the chops that he once played with. His words not mine. I saw four concerts of Eric's and he played his butt off. There is not and never will be another Eric Clapton. That said the only time in all four of those shows that the audience came to its feet after a guitar solo was after Derek's slow 12 bar blues solo. That's not a critical analysis of anything. It is simply a fact. It has no bearing whatsoever on the greatness, uniqueness and critical part that Eric Clapton had and continues to have in the musical canon.
 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:28 PM
Hi Butch!!!! Good to see you online!!!

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:29 PM
Derek was amazing w/Clapton,that's for sure...I thought he & Doyle pushed Clapton ...in a good way.

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:36 PM
quote:
After doing interview after interview you guys grab this and pull a line out and run with it. I've been working my butt off to make this happen and a few people that I doubt very seriously have ever created anything in their lives get to sit back and tear it down. Having fun? You gotta admit at least I'm giving you something to do. The quote about Eric's guitar playing these days was taken from an interview where he said that he was not playing with the fire and the chops that he once played with. His words not mine. I saw four concerts of Eric's and he played his butt off. There is not and never will be another Eric Clapton. That said the only time in all four of those shows that the audience came to its feet after a guitar solo was after Derek's slow 12 bar blues solo. That's not a critical analysis of anything. It is simply a fact. It has no bearing whatsoever on the greatness, uniqueness and critical part that Eric Clapton had and continues to have in the musical canon.


Your point about Eric Clapton is well-taken. That was exactly what I thought you meant, but thanks for clarifying.

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:37 PM
Butch--I think that quite a few of us have our fingers crossed for Moogis. Also--I seriously think that Derek succeeded in lighting the proverbial fire under EC as very few others have. Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the Madison Square Garden shows with Steve Winwood from last February!
 
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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:39 PM
quote:
After doing interview after interview you guys grab this and pull a line out and run with it. I've been working my butt off to make this happen and a few people that I doubt very seriously have ever created anything in their lives get to sit back and tear it down. Having fun? You gotta admit at least I'm giving you something to do."

Ehhh, its bs, just let it slide.
Like Jack White once wrote;
"Somebody, somewhere, has a problem with just about everything you do"

Someday you'll maybe take that well deserved retirement, and you know what?
someone will selfishly have a problem with that as well.

The Internet is a great thing, but its got its more than its fair share of self-centered idiots, obviously. Just stay positive, keep creating, and keep pushing on.....

[Edited on 2/17/2009 by Efus]

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:42 PM
embrace the well wishers butch
and dont let the negataive backhanded people shove you around

when you get sometime on youre hands id enjoy for you to reflect on technology from
the 480ls era

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:43 PM
Butch,
great to see you.....tremendous good luck with MOOGIS, a great idea!!!
As for the backbitters, as you know, there's (at least) one in every crowd.......

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:52 PM
EC's always played better when there were people who could push him. I'm sure he'd even say that.

I saw Eric and Derek in Birmingham, AL on that tour and it was a great show. One I'd gladly go see again.

 

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  posted on 2/17/2009 at 12:53 PM
quote:
Butch--I think that quite a few of us have our fingers crossed for Moogis.


Indeed!

quote:
Also--I seriously think that Derek succeeded in lighting the proverbial fire under EC as very few others have.

Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the Madison Square Garden shows with Steve Winwood from last February!


sorry for off-topic - but is there a DVD release of the EC/DT/Winwood show(s)??

Thanks,
Peace.

Good Luck Butch!

 

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