Duane Trucks Pens Note About The Loss Of Col. Bruce Hampton

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In the Col. Bruce Hampton family tree of rock, there is a whole limb dedicated to the Trucks family. Not only was he a contemporary and occasional jamming partner of Allman Brothers Band co-founding drummer Butch Trucks but he started a friendship and tutorship of Butch’s nephew Derek Trucks in 1991. While Derek was a budding 12-year-old guitarist at the time, his little brother Duane Trucks was just three-years-old.

Duane’s memories of Col. Bruce in his life go back as far as he can remember. While Derek studied at the altar of Hampton and would jam with him from time to time, Duane was a full-time member of a handful of Bruce’s backing bands. The younger Trucks brother, who played drums, was a key component of Col. Bruce Hampton’s Pharaoh Gummit and Quark Alliance projects. Duane backed Col. Bruce hundreds of times in the 2000s after moving from Jacksonville to Atlanta to learn from the master.

When a musical director for Monday night’s Hampton 70: A Celebration Of Col. Bruce Hampton was needed it was Duane Trucks who stepped up. The 28-year-old drummer took the lessons he learned from Hampton and ran with them. He first helped form Hard Working Americans and later stepped into the drum seat with jam titans Widespread Panic with whom he plays amphitheaters and arenas and headlines festivals across the country. Duane was all business on Monday as he helped direct traffic in leading the 30+ musicians on hand to honor Col. Bruce Hampton. It is hard to fathom the emotions he felt when a man who was like a father figure to him died on Monday night.

Duane regained enough composure to write a beautiful note about his friend:

Col. Bruce Hampton shaped my entire being. I feel so lucky to have been around him since I was too young to remember. Having older brothers who revered him like some musical, philosophical guru trickled down to me in my formative years. Whether it was reading J. Krishnamurti before I could really understand it or listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Albert Ayler before I knew what I was hearing, his impact was everywhere around me. After high school I moved to Atlanta from Jacksonville with the hopes of one day playing with him.

Just through listening to old tapes my brothers had of ARU as a teenager, I felt like he’d already taught me some ancient secret knowledge. Later I would find out first hand that that was exactly what he taught me. He taught me about transcendence. Transcending your instrument, transcending the music, transcending art itself, reaching for life. He always said “We’re not here to play music, we’re here to put the Devil in the room.” I always took “the Devil” as spirit. Whether it was the spirit of joy, the spirit of sadness, the spirit of humor, it didn’t matter what the emotion was. He would say “I don’t wanna hear what you practice in your bedroom. I wanna hear you!! How do you feel today? What’d you eat for lunch? Play THAT!”

Everyday I learn something more from him. Last night. Today. Everyday. He was an open channel to the universe. We’re all lucky to have shared the planet with him. What we thought we were planning as a birthday celebration ended up being the most poetic farewell imaginable. Actually, it was unimaginable. As is everything with him. Now we say our goodbyes to him, but he will never be gone. He lives in every note played by the thousands of musicians he inspired. He lives in every conscious thought of those he enlightened with his wisdom. Now he’s off to be in the stars that so inspired him. Thank you Bruce. Thank you for the eyes to see and ears to hear.

Read other remembrances from Col. Bruce’s collaborators here and here.