This past Tuesday, the day Butch Trucks passed away, the founding Allman Brothers Band drummer gave his final interview with Allentown, PA’s The Morning Call. The conversation was in anticipation of Trucks’ Freight Train Band’s appearance at a local blues festival in March but the topics stretched from some history of the Allman Brothers Band to how Trucks views his own legacy and that of ABB in the overall scope of rock music. As The Morning Call notes, Trucks’ management company confirmed this was his last interview. The last they heard from the drummer was on the phone, when Trucks expressed that “the interview went well, said he had something to do, and hung up.”
Trucks begins by admiring the nice weather in his West Palm Beach, FL, adopted hometown and moves into talking about his and his wife’s second home in Southern France and his love for growing and eating squash blossoms. The conversation eventually moves to how and why Trucks got The Freight Train Band together, and Trucks smartly references Voltaire’s Candide in his story of the band’s beginnings in his mind, saying that he couldn’t just stay at home and tend to his own garden (“I guess I’m not ready to be that peaceful yet), feeling the pull of the music and the stage after the final Allman Brothers Band shows in 2014.
The drummer gushes about the skills of some of his Freight Train Band associates, including his son and guitarist Vaylor Trucks and singer/guitarist Heather Gillis, and how the new band compares to what he did with ABB. That led into a discussion on the final years of the Allmans and how they got away from true improvisation in favor of playing it safe: “A jam means it’s not structured – let it go. Let go here, let it go there. And I don’t know – it’s like … I started getting the feeling toward the end with The Allman Brothers is that, especially with Derek and Warren, they were more afraid of making a mistake than anything else.”
Trucks also mentioned that the much-rumored Allman Brothers Band reunion probably wouldn’t happen, mostly due to the recent health issues of Gregg Allman, which have forced his to cancel several tour dates and festival appearances, but Trucks mentions he felt that “something’s left, still on the table” for the band. “It would be kind of fun to go out and try it one more time,” he said.
At the end of the interview, Trucks looks to the future of The Freight Train Band, to possible studio recordings and live releases, before he ruminates on the musical legacy of his career, when he mentions his feeling that the Allmans helped to inspire classic fusion albums like Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame and Chick Corea and Return to Forever’s Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy.
The fact that Trucks’ death was revealed to be a suicide makes the interview all the more intriguing, especially the drummer’s words that seem to look toward the future, as when he discussed getting back to his garden in France, saying, “I’m hoping that this year I can get over [there] … we’ve got some dates in March and April, but you kind of have to get the squashes planted before the end of April if you’re going to get anything to grow. So I’m hoping I can get over there this year and get a good garden planted.”
Read a full transcript of Trucks’ final interview here.