Derek Trucks Looks Back On What He Learned From Gregg Allman
Guitarist Derek Trucks has been through the wringer thus far in 2017. Not only did his uncle Butch Trucks pass away after shooting himself in January, but Derek was on-stage as Col. Bruce Hampton died on May 1 and late last month lost his mentor and band mate Gregg Allman due to complications from liver cancer. Derek has shared his most extensive thoughts on Gregg yet in a riveting chat with Rolling Stone’s David Browne.
“[Gregg] just had that magnetism, and that fucking voice. They don’t hand those out often,” Derek said of the man who fronted the Allman Brothers Band throughout all of Trucks’ 15-year tenure in the group. The guitarist revealed that he learned of Gregg’s passing thanks to a call from Allmans’ manager Bert Holman as Derek was preparing for a concert in Jacksonville. “We knew Gregg was sick. You just go into self-preservation mode and try to block it out a little bit. You’ve got a few gigs to do. But I remember sitting backstage trying to think through it and I put on “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” and that was when it hit home. You hear that voice; you think about what he was thinking about right then. That’s when the emotions take over.”
Derek talked about his first encounter with Gregg:
My dad took me to a show when I was about four. But the first one I really remember was when they reformed in 1989. They were playing in Jacksonville. I thought that music was gone and the Allman Brothers were not a band anymore, and that sound was this mythological thing but I’d never see it. And when the band reformed, they certainly had that fire and that swagger.
Trucks learned many lessons from Allman the biggest of which was to avoid heroin. The pair went for a drive when Derek was a teenager and the talk turned serious:
I drove on this abandoned road, and then he got back behind the wheel and told me, “Look, you can do a lot of shit. But do not mess around…” He was specifically talking about heroin. He was like, “Do not do it.” And he showed me his arms, and he said, “If any of the potholes I’ve hit are to not be in vain, people have to learn from it.”
Derek also discussed the last time he performed with Gregg and the last time he saw the rock legend. The former took place on July 24, 2016 in Charlotte. “It was right towards the end. I didn’t fully know it at the time, but he was very sick. He really went past the point of when he could physically do it. But I think he loved being out there and doing it. He wasn’t in his best place physically. But the fact that he came out — you could feel this wave from the audience, just seeing him there. It makes you realize how fucking important that guy was to so many people,” Trucks said of the guest spot. The guitarist revealed he knew Gregg was near the end when he went to visit Allman with Warren Haynes a few weeks before his passing, “At that point, you knew what was going on. Everybody knew it was imminent.”
Head to Rolling Stone for much more from Derek Trucks about Gregg Allman.