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Author: Subject: Butch has a lot to say about ABB past, present and future. Check it out.

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 06:10 PM
Butch Trucks on the Allman Brothers Band, past, present and future
BY ROGER BULLSTORY UPDATED AT 5:55 PM ON THURSDAY, JUN. 4, 2009


Butch Trucks was there at the beginning, providing the beat for that very first jam that created the Allman Brothers Band. And 40 years later, he's still there. Along with Jaimoe, he's still pounding out the rhythm for one of the country's truly great rock bands.

The band has been busy in this their 40th year. Trucks, who's 62, talked with us by phone last week from his home in Palm Beach. He talked about the band past and present, how he's moving to France and how they won't be doing another year like this one again.

This is really your last major year of touring? Why?

Derek (Trucks, the band's guitarist) is a major reason we're doing what we're doing. Derek and Warren Haynes. They have their own bands.

We promised Derek. He has really, really worked hard to make room for the Allman Brothers in the middle of all this. We asked him to give us a year, then we'll back way down.

This year, we're doing up around 60 shows. Normally, it's maybe half that many, but that's still more than he wants it to be.

So we're going to cut way back.

You'll still play some, though, right? How about the annual run at the Beacon Theater in New York?

Sure we'll continue until my body runs out of juice. But we won't be at the Beacon anymore. They just announced that Cirque du Soleil is moving in there, sad to say.

We'll still do a multi-show thing in New York, but we're looking for another venue. With things the way they are, there's a lot of empty theaters on Broadway.

Where do you think the sound is today?

Right now, I'm having more fun, and I think the band is playing better than ever. The band with Duane and Barry, you're never going to touch that for originality. But as far as being able to play, this band is amazing.

What we're doing now is we're taking what we started with and taking it to places with Warren and Derek that we couldn't have. That band just wasn't good enough. Derek is just so full of influences and musical history. I heard him playing something other day that was a combination of Willie McTell and Ravi Shankar. I don't know how to describe.

You just never know what he's going to do next.

We're keeping them original, and that's why it's still fun. How the Eagles continue to play the way they do, I don't know. The same night after night. If I want to listen to a record, I'll sit home and listen to it.

Where did the idea for Wanee come from?

From me. I came up with it maybe eight or 10 years ago to do several festivals like this around the country. Basically, the idea got shot down by our esteemed partner.

That was Dickey Betts?

That's it.

Why did there always seem to be conflict there?

After Duane died, I think our last really great original album that made us who we were was "Eat a Peach." Our best selling album was "Brothers and Sisters," but then we were going country.

See, we started out with a foundation of blues. But then we added people like Miles Davis and John Coltrane to the mix and gave rock 'n' roll a much more complex structure. It made it possible to play more than three chords.

Miles and Coltrane?

Sure, with songs like "Whipping Post" and "Dreams." If you listen to "Dreams," it's Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." That's exactly where it came from. We seldom play it without Otheil playing the bass line from "My Favorite Things."

But then when we got famous, we got more and more country. Country's cool if you like that kind of thing, but it doesn't have the complexity or, what's the word, subtlety.

When we started to head in that direction, the subtly that we were adding to rock 'n' roll started to disappear and we became bombastic.

But the worst thing was that we became famous. And when you do that, sex and drugs became just as important as the music.

Around '73, '74 we were the No. 1 band in the world and Dickey kind of took over. I don't remember most of it. I got on stage and didn't know where I was.

But you always seemed like the clean one.

I was the first one to clean up by the time the band split up in 1976. The trouble is that you get fans who tell you you're great no matter how big an idiot you are.

Is it even possible to be normal when that's going on?

No, it's impossible. Maybe a few people have done it. But you're young, you've got all this fame and fortune. It's very hard to hold onto any real sense of self worth. You lose all touch with reality.

I finally met this woman who was a schoolteacher in Tennessee and wasn't hung up in all that stuff. She saw something in me, I'm not sure what.

But we started dating, and I don't mean groupying. My old Southern Baptist kicked in and I realized this was not a girl you just took back to the hotel. We got very serious and then one morning I asked her what I did the night before, because I didn't remember.

She said, "You were an - - just like you are every time you get drunk like that."

I asked her to leave, but then it started to sink in. That girl was right. I went back to her and said "We need to get married, but first let me see if I can go six weeks straight."

We've been married 33 years now. It look me a long time to get really straight, though. I don't even drink at all anymore. I don't drink; I don't smoke. I'm boring as hell. I just sit around and talk philosophy.

Let's go way back, what part of Jacksonville did you grow up in?

I lived all over. I was born on Walnut Street, I don't know where you call that. I went to elementary school at Annie Beaman, but that's no longer there and I don't know when it was closed.

We moved out to Ribault and I went there eighth through 11th grade. Then we moved to the Southside and I graduated from Englewood.

I know you were in Jacksonville for the 1969 jam that started the Allman Brothers, but were you here the whole time?

No, I went off to Florida State and spent a couple of years there. I'd really lost interest and wasn't playing any music, but then me and a couple of friends from Englewood started listening to the Byrds' first albums.

So we started a band, playing the Byrds and Dylan. It was folk rock. I think we were the first hippies at Florida State, and I guess my major there was staying out of Vietnam.

But we did some touring and after a couple of years of not going to class, they asked me not to come. Think about that. You've got to be pretty stupid to flunk out of Florida State.

But when the band broke up in 1976, I got back in on my life experience, since I had more gold records that the whole music school. I took all those courses I'd flunked the first time and really loaded up.

My first term, I made five A's and a C. You know what the C was in? Percussion. Second term, I made five A's and a B in percussion. The only thing I couldn't ace was drums.

But it wasn't the professor's fault. He was trying to teach me percussion for the symphony. I didn't bother to practice, and he knew it.

What's your life now?

I live in Palm Beach, but I've finally come to the conclusion that the great American dream, that all we have to do is buy stuff is not necessarily the key to happiness.

So we're selling this house. My wife and I have bought a medieval farmhouse out in the countryside in the south of France. We've gutted it, put in geothermal and solar panels. The well is fed by snow melt.

We've got 4 or 5 acres, we'll plant a garden and get some horses. And we're surrounded by sangliers, that's French for wild boar. They come down to the creek at night right below my third story window.

So I'll sit there with my thirty-ought-six, and if we need some pork, I just put the night scope on.

You're serious about the boar?

Oh, yeah, the countryside is absolutely filled with wild boar.

And you're serious about leaving?

You know, I guess I read too much. I just don't feel all that confident in the future of this country because we all bought into the bill of goods that if you just keep buying stuff you'll be happy. And it's the reason I have my doubts that we're going to come out of this mess.

It's not the leader. It's not "Oh, we elected Obama so everything's going to be great." The problem is systemic.

People have got to quit trying to lead this big lifestyle. We've got to make some sacrifices, quit spending more than we have.

And I know that if we do that, the economy will shrink, jobs will be lost. But if we keep doing what we've been doing, it's going to be bubble and bust, bubble and bust.

Looking back, it's got to be strange to be where you are now.

People ask me if I thought I'd ever be doing something like this. But back then, I wasn't thinking a lot.

What happened was that you had Duane Allman come to town and he was like this messianic figure, all full of fire. He found some like-minded people and we produced music that felt like nothing we'd ever felt before.

We didn't expect this fame. At best, we thought we might become an opening act.

It must feel good to have the same lineup for about eight years now.

This group works. Everyone is sober. Luckily Gregg pulled himself together or he would have been a dead man. His liver was the size of basketball, he was swollen. Finally, after years of people telling him that he was going to die, he believed them.

Everyone is sober, straight and professional, and there's no one who's trying to run things and tell everyone else what to do. Since 2000, that's it in a nutshell. That's why this band is fun again.

Is that another reference to Dickey?

Yes, it is. And look at the Beacon. Fifteen shows, 67 guests, two nights with Eric Clapton. That's as close to a highlight as anything in my career.

All 15 shows were dedicated to Duane. Without him, there would have been no Allman Brothers. He's the guy who started it all. The only thing we've really done for him was put "Dedicated to a brother" on "Eat a Peach."

We figured it was time to say "Thank you."

Probably the three best friends Duane had in the world when he died, outside of the Allman Brothers, were Clapton, John Hammond and Delaney Bramlett.

We had Eric and John there. Unfortunately, Delaney died a few months before the show. But Bonnie and Bekka Bramlett were there and we did a version of "Only You and I Know" and you'll never hear it like that again.

I still get teary when I watch that. What a great night.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 07:21 PM
Ugh. I can't listen to this guy any more.

Why wasn't he complaining about the "country" stuff in '73 when he was living it up as a result?

I don't dig people that tell tales out of school.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 07:42 PM
After this many years, Butch has more than earned the right & is entitled to give us his perspective. I thought this was a really good "read". There's a lot of good insight & perspective here. I thought he was quite effective in getting his thoughts out there. I appreciate the music he's given us, continues to give us, and I wish him the best moving forward.

[Edited on 6/5/2009 by MartinD28]

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 07:53 PM
quote:
After this many years, Butch has more than earned the right & is entitled to give us his perspective. I thought this was a really good "read". There's a lot of good insight & perspective here, I thought he was quite effective in getting his thoughts out there. I appreciate the music he's given us, continues to give us, and I wish him the best moving forward.


I agree. It is easy to look back in hindsight and critique things but the bottom line is the music always lives. His "country" thoughts are interesting but I am guessing no one was complaining at the time they were the biggest band in the land circa 73-74.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 07:57 PM
Thanks for posting the interview Mulehead. Some interesting tidbits in there, especially regarding the Derek issues. I'm sure a publicist would cringe at some of the answers from Butch, but I prefer them unpolished and brutally honest.

A C in percussion. Pretty funny.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:04 PM
quote:
Thanks for posting the interview Mulehead. Some interesting tidbits in there, especially regarding the Derek issues. I'm sure a publicist would cringe at some of the answers from Butch, but I prefer them unpolished and brutally honest.

A C in percussion. Pretty funny.


Yeah those are interesting too. His comments affirm what we have been reading about Derek's desire to focus more on his projects. Very real.

I do believe though that forum talk of Derek "leaving the band" are nonsense. My opinion but I think that Derek can fit in a New York run and Wanee next year.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:09 PM
Butch has strong opinions. I admire him for speaking his mind. Even if I don't totally agree.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:13 PM
As much as I get mad at Butch sometimes, I thought that was a very good interview. Moving to France...cool.

"Brothers and Sisters" was not one of my top 5 faves of the band, and if he did not like the "Country" edge....he has a right to his own opinion. Just because he made a lot of money off of it, does not mean it has to be his favorite.

Thanks for the good read........

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:14 PM
I hope Butch is happy as a boar in SH*T in the meadow leaving the good ole USA behind. I am astounded at the lack of respect and CREDIT not given to Dickey. I can't believe he wouldn't acknowledge that they were great songs written by Dickey that made them super famous.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:40 PM
quote:
I hope Butch is happy as a boar in SH*T in the meadow leaving the good ole USA behind. I am astounded at the lack of respect and CREDIT not given to Dickey. I can't believe he wouldn't acknowledge that they were great songs written by Dickey that made them super famous.



It's obvious Butch and Dickey are not on friendly terms anymore, NONE of us know the whole truth and story. It's easy to stand back and judge. I love Dickey, but I'm sure he was a major a$$ at times.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:45 PM
true, I guess in a way Butch "airbrushed" Dickey out of the Allman BRothers history in the story and it pissed me off.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 08:49 PM
quote:
true, I guess in a way Butch "airbrushed" Dickey out of the Allman BRothers history in the story and it pissed me off.


I can understand that, I get pissed at Butch all the time.

But then I let it go..........

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 09:00 PM
It's not as if Dickey forced the country stuff on the band.

a) Gregg wasn't writing anymore. Look at the results: did Gregg even compose 10 full songs between 1973 and the 1989 reunion? Gregg wrote exactly one half of one song on Seven Turns, and it's not as if Dickey blocked his material, because they it would trickled out in his solo projects, which it did not. Gregg's written 20-ish songs since 1973, whereas Dickey's written near 100. THAT is why the band went the way it did.

b) Dickey was reluctant to play Ramblin' Man for the others. because it was too country. The general band concensus, however, was that it was too good a song to pass up. Dickey's other contributions on the album were blistering blues ("Soutbound") and shimmering instrumental rock ("Jessica"). The band STILL plays those songs, alone with "Come & Go Blues," so why would he diss said album?

c) If Butch was so out of the country thing, WHY DID HE JOIN BHLT? That band was almost pure country. Butch wore cowboy hats and dressed the part. Was he forced?

I think he's a little too full of himself, and it saddens me that so many people here let him dump all over Dickey the way he does.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 09:34 PM
quote:
true, I guess in a way Butch "airbrushed" Dickey out of the Allman BRothers history in the story and it pissed me off.


He does have a tendency to diminish what Dickey meant to the Allman Brothers. Hell, even during Duane's lifetime he wrote some of their greatest and most vital songs. NONE of that means that the things that happened in the late 90's did not happen but the past should not be readjusted.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 09:41 PM
I usually don't comment on these types of stories but here goes.

Butch Trucks is a douchebag. He comes across as someone who can't let go of the past. Dickey might be a drunk but he keeps the snide comments to himself. Butch needs to understand that 99% of the audience wouldn't notice if he was replaced by another drummer. But EVERYONE I talk to knows that Dickey is gone.

On top of that, I see this cheesy Allman Brothers photo with Butch whoring out Moogis on his t shirt. He's actually pulling back his jacket to show the Moogis logo. He's a used car salesman who can play the drums. Whopdee dam doo. I remember 13 yrs ago when I was in college and I had some friend who were buddies with Vaylor and said how much a pr!ck Butch was. I never paid any attention to it until I kept hearing these stories.

I'm happy I don't give money to this band and haven't seen them in person since 2004 and will not for a long time.

[Edited on 6/5/2009 by chris]

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 09:49 PM
quote:
After Duane died, I think our last really great original album that made us who we were was "Eat a Peach." Our best selling album was "Brothers and Sisters," but then we were going country.

See, we started out with a foundation of blues. But then we added people like Miles Davis and John Coltrane to the mix and gave rock 'n' roll a much more complex structure. It made it possible to play more than three chords.

Miles and Coltrane?

Sure, with songs like "Whipping Post" and "Dreams." If you listen to "Dreams," it's Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." That's exactly where it came from. We seldom play it without Otheil playing the bass line from "My Favorite Things."

But then when we got famous, we got more and more country. Country's cool if you like that kind of thing, but it doesn't have the complexity or, what's the word, subtlety.



Right or wrong, I have always thought this very same thing...

Thanks for the read Mulehead13.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 09:54 PM
quote:
I usually don't comment on these types of stories but here goes.

Butch Trucks is a douchebag. He comes across as someone who can't let go of the past. Dickey might be a drunk but he keeps the snide comments to himself. Butch needs to understand that 99% of the audience wouldn't notice if he was replaced by another drummer. But EVERYONE I talk to knows that Dickey is gone.

On top of that, I see this cheesy Allman Brothers photo with Butch whoring out Moogis on his t shirt. He's actually pulling back his jacket to show the Moogis logo. He's a used car salesman who can play the drums. Whopdee dam doo. I remember 13 yrs ago when I was in college and I had some friend who were buddies with Vaylor and said how much a pr!ck Butch was. I never paid any attention to it until I kept hearing these stories.

I'm happy I don't give money to this band and haven't seen them in person since 2004 and will not for a long time.

[Edited on 6/5/2009 by chris]


So you dont give the band money and wont for a long time and don't typically comment on this type of article yet felt necessary to drop insults at Butch.

It's just an article! Take it easy.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 10:11 PM
I was hoping one interview without a shot at Dickey Betts, and stopped reading after he comes through once again! I think he must grant interviews for the sole purpose of delivering some little cheap shot.

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 10:32 PM
quote:
Ugh. I can't stand reading frank's bullsh!t any more.




EGG

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 10:59 PM
Puh-leeze...

We don't even know each other, and can't get along.
These 2 guys spent close to 30 years +, around each other, and for what its worth, Butch is a cranky guy, and Dickey has been described as "just plain mean" by the woman that use to feed them.

This is not tough to figure out, just read between the lines.
Butch gives himself an out, by basically saying he was completely out of it during the early 70's, thus was in no condition to influence the band's direction. Gregg? same deal.
So much credit should be given to Dickey for stepping up, and taking the reins.
And as long as the money and drugs are flowing, and the crowds are getting bigger, who's going to stop all that, and complain about the musical direction they're going in?

Now flash to the future, Butch has got his thing together, Dickey is the same old, same old, and Gregg's just Gregg, hanging back.
Butch puts out the idea of the multiple festivals, trying to have some sort of say in the band, since he was an original, and Dickey's squelching that idea for whatever reason.
That seems to be a sticking point with Butch. He thinks Dickey was being unreasonable.
So now you have 2 stubborn, old school, Southern bred, hard azzes, that can't get along. Not an uncommon story really anywhere in the World, but in Allman World, the guy with the last name (Gregg) got the deciding vote, and Dickey got the boot.

Well hate to say it, but Butch's idea has turned out to be a pretty good idea, and Moogis its self is a whole new idea, of course the man's going to do anything to make it work. Its called commitment. So I don't get the criticism there.

And now what's Dickey doing? he's grinding it out in small venues, with his son and his pride, keeping it "real"

So if both camps are happy, why are we constantly fighting about that?
Seems like a lot of wasted energy to me, imho....

 

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  posted on 6/4/2009 at 11:42 PM
Interesting article. Thanks for posting Mulehead.

 

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  posted on 6/5/2009 at 12:14 AM
Butch was way off about being one of the first hippies at FSU. There were more hippies in 72, when I got there, than in Dec. 73 when I graduated. Butch arrived shortly afterward. He was in the music school with a friend from Jax. Butch may have been the last hippy at FSU, but was clearly not the first. If he is not credible on an issue that is of no consequence, is he credible on other issues?

In my opinion Dickey is one of America's greatest musicians, up there with Duane and Derek, just behind Bob. Notwithstanding that, he has had very little success since being fired. To my knowledge he has written the same number of good songs since 2000 as Gregg, Butch and Warren. Zero.

 

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  posted on 6/5/2009 at 12:31 AM
Out of nowhere: "Our Esteemed Partner" WTF???

and then forget the old USA..........

I can't read a Butch interview without cringing.

Pretty sickening he can't do an interview without putting down Dickey once or twice. Christ, WTF??????? Is Dickey writing you hate mail we don't know about Butch? Oh wait, I'm sure you'd tell us all about it if so....

The Eagles play the same songs all the time? Uh, OK.... Not like other bands that write songs all the time?

Butch Trucks has no class. I hope he reads this (That is in anticipation of the inevitable "I hope Butch doesn't read this" post).

The original band wasn't as good as this band...... that's right, they were far better...

I'm sure the French papers will eat all this stuff up.....

 

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  posted on 6/5/2009 at 01:09 AM
quote:
Butch was way off about being one of the first hippies at FSU. There were more hippies in 72, when I got there, than in Dec. 73 when I graduated. Butch arrived shortly afterward. He was in the music school with a friend from Jax. Butch may have been the last hippy at FSU, but was clearly not the first. If he is not credible on an issue that is of no consequence, is he credible on other issues?

quote:
No, I went off to Florida State and spent a couple of years there. I'd really lost interest and wasn't playing any music, but then me and a couple of friends from Englewood started listening to the Byrds' first albums.

So we started a band, playing the Byrds and Dylan. It was folk rock. I think we were the first hippies at Florida State, and I guess my major there was staying out of Vietnam.

Looks like Butch was originally at FSU around 1965 or so. AK, read a bit more carefully before challenging his credibility on the small issues.



 

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  posted on 6/5/2009 at 01:32 AM
I've never gone to an ABB show or listened to an ABB album to see what Butch is going to come up with. Butch is just one of the drummers. A very good drummer, but still, he has ridden the coattails of the guitarists and the songwriters of this band from day one.

 

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