Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skydog ,The Beacon Theatre And The Road Going On Forever : An Exclusive Interview With Butch Trucks Of The Allman Brothers Band

Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1947, Butch Trucks is a true musical pioneer. As a co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, the drummer, nicknamed "The Freight Train", laid down a powerful conventional beat which has been an integral part of the band's sound since the beginning. A sound which was not only original, but also was the principal blueprint for the whole Southern rock genre, paving the way for Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet and seemingly countless others throughout the 70's.

The original lineup, which besides Trucks included the brothers, vocalist/keyboardist Gregg and guitarist Duane Allman, guitarist Dickie Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and fellow drummer/percussionist Jaimoe Johanson, broke onto the rock scene with their unique blend of blues rock, jazz, hard rock and country when they released their self-titled debut album, which received great critical acclaim upon arrival. Although there have been triumphs and tragedies, trials and tribulations, break-ups and reunions, the band, now with Trucks' nephew Derek on slide guitar, continues to amaze audiences to the present day.

The band's influence is still felt to this very day, with modern day jam bands picking up the torch and drawing inspiration from a band who in 1971 Rolling Stone Magazine hailed as "the best damn rock and roll band" of "the past five years." High praise indeed considering at the time legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin were still in their prime. Besides that bestowment, they had the unique distinction of having all 4 of their primary guitarists tabbed by the magazine on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, their legacy as one of the finest bands of all time is safe and secure.

In 1989, when the band reunited for the second time, after a seven year hiatus in the wake of the massive success of the 'Dreams' box set, they initiated an annual tradition by playing a series of shows at New York City's historic Beacon Theatre. The tradition is known as the "Beacon Run" among fans, who travel from across the United States, Canada and Western Europe to see these annual March and April shows.

After a year's absence due to the cancellation of the 2008 run while band leader Gregg Allman recovered from a bout with Hepatitis C, the band is back to business with a 15 show residency. This year, the rock legends celebrate their 40th Anniversary with an impressive list of legendary musical guests, the likes of which, although still kept under wraps, are, in Trucks' words, "taking a quantum leap" from previous years. Rock legends such as Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, and even former co- founding guitarist Dickie Betts, among others, have been speculated as being just a few of the high profile artists possibly appearing -- all to pay homage to the band's late founding guitarist Duane Allman, who tragically died in a motorcycle accident October 29, 1971 at the age of 24.

This year's run also is pushing the boundaries for another reason. Through Trucks' new venture Moogis, the Allman Brothers' entire residency, March 9th - 28th, will be streamed live on the Internet via a subscription service. Paying members of the community-based site can not only watch the shows live as they happen, but be able to revisit them on demand, along with other exclusive video and audio from past shows, for a six month period. This concept has been done before, but never by a major band to this extent, proving they continue to break new ground, not only musically but on a technical level as well. Not surprising when taking into consideration that they were quite possibly the first major rock band to have a web site, being open to the possibilities of the then - emergent technology at an early stage.

Recently I caught up with Trucks at home in Florida, where we discussed the Moogis webcasts, the upcoming Beacon Theater shows, Duane Allman, the future of The Allman Brothers Band and much more. Read on as we have an exclusive conversation with founding member of The Allman Brothers Band and member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Butch Trucks....

Special thanks to Barbara Lysiak for coordinating, and a very BIG thanks to Butch Trucks for doing this interview with Nightwatcher's House Of Rock...

Interview and text by Keith Langerman for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock

March 5, 2009

Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : First off I'd like to talk about and the upcoming webcasts of the Allman Brothers' Beacon Theatre shows. How did you come up with the idea to start this, and what quality can people expect if they pay to see all the shows via their computer?

Butch Trucks : I've been a computer geek since the 480 SL, which I think is the first one I bought. This was way before Windows. Back then you would buy a program, or a game, a peripheral, and with a game especially, playing the game wasn't what was fun, it was just getting it to work. You'd put in a new program and it just wouldn't work. You'd have to find where your interrupt conflict was, or whatever conflicts you were having. Oh, that was fun, to me, because I'm the kind of guy who, when I was a kid, every Christmas that I got toys the first thing I'd do was take them apart to see how they worked. I could usually get them put back together. So I bought my first computer, threw away all the books, and the good thing about a computer is if the plug fits, then that's where it goes. Then from that point, it was trying things out until they didn't work, then you'd spend several hours or days with a tech, and he'd teach you. That's how I learned, from talking with techs. What I'm telling you is, I've been into computers since way back. Once the Internet got started, even before Windows, we had a huge fan of The Allman Brothers who was in one of MIT's very first computer science graduating classes. He came to us with the idea of creating an online fan club.

NHOR : It's been said that The Allman Brothers Band were the first major rock band to have a web site...

BT : As far as I know. We have operated under that assumption since way back when, and so far... and I don't like to come out and say it, because someone may have beat us to it, but so far I haven't found them. I think we were the first band to have a web site. I've gotten involved in it, and there were many times where I would go through periods where I would go online and answer questions from the fans, and get involved with them. It really helped, because I learned a lot about how they were feeling about what we were doing. We actually made some changes due to things that I learned while I was doing that.

What I've learned more than anything is more and more the communities of today are online. Whereas when you and I were kids we'd come home then run down the street and play baseball, kids today come home, log online and go to wherever it is their friends hang out. What I have not found is a music-based web site where this exists. There's a lot of music-based web sites around, like,, and all the web sites for the bands, where to an extent people go and communicate. But it's more like posting on a guestbook, or getting involved in a thread on a forum. There's not a great deal of immediacy. I know of no place, there is no place that I know of at all. There are places where you can go and see music. But I don't know of any that are genre specific. I've found a lot which are quite eclectic where you can watch music, but it might be rap one day, metal the next day, then something else the next day. My model here, and my idea is to create a very genre specific community. One that's built around live music. Ultimately, what I would like to do with is incorporate the whole jam band scene. We're going to wire six clubs around the country with five high definition cameras, so that once Mr. Obama finally gets the infrastructure going enough to where we have enough bandwidth in this country, we can actually send out a high definition signal, and people can watch it.

We're starting out, and I've spent the last several years trying to raise the capital to build that web site. It's going to take several million dollars, and so far, investors aren't completely convinced that a subscription-based model will work. I just have to scratch my head. I play World Of Warcraft. It gets me through those hours stuck in a hotel room with nothing else to do while you're waiting to play the show at night. It's probably one of the most successful businesses in the world today. There are 12 million subscribers to World Of Warcraft. If that's not a successful subscription model on the Internet, I don't know what is. But it's not music. I've had a difficult time raising the funds, so I decided... we really got lucky with The Allman Brothers' Beacon run this year being our 40th anniversary. It's going to be a very, very special 15 shows. I put together enough capital to do the Allman Brothers' Beacon as a proof of concept. If we're successful with this, then I have several venture capitalists who are ready to step in and take it to stage two. Then we'll go to the broader jam band community.

But the basic concept, and Moogis has been up for over a month now, is that there is a community web site free. You can come and join, and become part of the forums, and talk about what you like and you don't like about anything you want to. You'll create your own profile, put a picture up if you want to, or put a picture up of somebody who looks better than you if you want to. (Laughs) What everybody does on Facebook. Then we have a Skype like chat room, where if you have the camera and microphone, you can go on there, actually look at each other and talk to one another, and do that on a one to one basis. Rather than just sending instant messages, you can invite someone to chat with you, and if they have a camera and mic you can sit there and talk to each other. We also have a feature called "Moog View", which is a bunch of videos of all the members of The Allman Brothers speaking to each other. But the heart of what Moogis is, is that community.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. The pay part, where you subscribe, it's $125.00. And for that you have full access to everything that is in that part of Moogis. We have about 12 - 15 live videos up which go back to around 2001. We have about 30 or 40 audio only concerts that go back three or four years. Some people were complaining that they wanted set lists to accompany each concert. So ony guy said, "We can do that ourselves." So he started a group for set lists. There is a database where every show that we've played all the way back to the beginning of time, someone has found the set list and it is posted. They just finished creating every set list for all 62 shows that we already have up on our web site. It's very cool. I really like this. They also had an issue with the player that we were using, which they couldn't do anything about, but I did. I went to the people who are handling how the shows are being presented, and we took care of that. The videos weren't really filling up the screen. There was a frame around it, so I got my people to remove that, and they created their own set lists. All of a sudden we're starting to feel like it's our web site, rather than them visiting my web site. That's what I've been after, that's what I want to create is a place where everyone feels like they can come and be a part of it. That kind of got the ball rolling.

So what we'll do is starting March 9th, we will stream live all 15 of the Beacon shows. This year, as I've said it's our 40th anniversary, and we are dedicating all 15 shows to Duane Allman. Because without Duane none of this would've happened. We wouldn't be talking to each other, and I'd probably be teaching math at school somewhere. Which is okay, but I kind of prefer the life I've had to teaching math in school. We can all thank Duane Allman for that. We've gone and invited a lot of Duane's friends, a lot of the people he played with, and a lot of people we have played with and met over the past 40 years to come and help us celebrate the 40th anniversary and the life of Duane Allman. And a lot of them are coming. A lot more than we anticipated. We're starting to get calls from people that we hadn't even thought of. I mean major players.

NHOR : Rolling Stone Magazine has reported that it's been confirmed that Eric Clapton will be sitting in for 2 shows during the Beacon run. Is that correct?

BT : It has been said. But I'm not going to confirm nor deny it. (Laughs) Our whole concept with the Beacon shows over the past 20 years, and what makes it so special is, when you're going in and playing one nighters, and playing for 10 - 20,000 people, you kind of have the obligation to play the greatest hits. You don't feel the freedom to experiment and try new things. You kind of have to get up and give it all you've got, and be pretty damn sure it's all going to work. Because you only have two and a half, three hours to play for these people, then it's on to Schenectady, or wherever you're going the next day. But at the Beacon we're there for 15 nights. It's a very small, intimate place, a lot like the old Fillmore East. People are hanging all over the stage, and we have friends and family all over the back stage with us. It's just a wonderful, wonderful environment. But because we're there for 15 dates, we feel like we can experiment, try new things, get out on a limb, and if we fall on our face, fine. We just get back up and go try something else. We fall on our faces quite often, then get back up and go find a brand new place we've never been before. It happens all the time. We also have developed through the years the element of surprise.

The Asbury Juke Horns started coming and sitting in with us several years ago, and they've been coming back almost every year. There are other people that come sit in with us, and every year, you just don't know. This year, the surprises are taking a quantum leap. The Beacon has just completely refurbished itself, and I have a feeling that by the time we finish this run they will have to put the roof back on. (Laughs) We've got some really special surprises for people this year. Even for us. We're going to get into some things this year that are going to stretch us to our limit, I'm telling you. I can't wait. I just can't wait. I strongly advise anyone who can't make it to New York, to subscribe to Moogis. Because you can see all 15 shows live, but you can also watch all 15 of those shows, plus all of the other content that I've mentioned. Plus more content that we'll be loading. You can watch it over and over again until September 30, 2009. We're going to leave the site up for six months after the Beacon run is over.So for $125.00 you can watch all 15 shows, all the shows we already have up, listen to all the audio, as often as you'd like until the end of September.

NHOR : Given the band's openness towards offering live shows to fans via numerous live audio releases, have there been any discussions about perhaps releasing some, or all of the shows in their entirety after the exclusive 6 months they will only be available on the site?

BT : That's strictly up to The Allman Brothers, and we really haven't talked about it. What we're doing with Moogis, and for me it's kind of strange, because I'm wearing two hats, but we have a limited license from The Allman Brothers to stream everything that we're doing. The actual product belongs to The Allman Brothers. Whether or not there will be a box set further down the road is strictly up to The Allman Brothers. I'll be honest with you, wearing my Allman Brothers hat, I would expect that there will probably be, in the not too distant future, an audio box set. I'm not really sure about a video. I'm quite sure they won't be in fact. But probably an audio set to go along with the 'Instant Live' shows that we've been doing. We've really developed an audience for the 'Instant Live' shows, so we're thinking that this would be a special set of 'Instant Live' shows. But they would be strictly audio without video. And I'm not even sure that's going to happen. But it may.

What we'll be doing with Moogis, is we're setting up an 8 or 9 camera shoot. It will go out in high quality. Right now the United States lags way behind the rest of the western world in bandwidth available to the public. I've been doing a lot of interviews with people in France, Spain, and even Poland. When I tell them we're going to be streaming this at 500k, they go, "What?!" (Laughs) We may offer two streams, one at 1 mb and one at 500k. But we do know that we're going to have to offer it at 500k, because we did a lot of experimentation with this, and anytime we got over 500k, there's just so many people out there with dsl, and what's called broadband, that anything over that they run into serious buffering issues, lag and that kind of thing. With 500k, just about anything that calls itself broadband, we've found using the Adobe Flash 10 player that there's very, very little lag. The picture quality is good. It's high quality, it's not high definition, but it is high quality, with very good color separation, and we're doing it on a 16 : 9 format. So you'll have a full screen on your wide screen. What we want everyone to know is that you can take your computer and hook it up to your television. Then, invite all your friends over and you can all stand together in a group in the middle of your living room floor, and pour beer all over each other like at the Beacon. (Laughs) It's exactly like being there. That's the only thing that you'd be missing by sitting and watching at your computer is having that beer spilled all over you. I'm not going to say that watching it over the Internet is the same as being there, but it's as close a second as I can think of. Because it is live. You will be part of that live audience. You'll be able to see all the mistakes, everything that happens. There's a possibility of some very, very dramatic instances this run. I'm really looking forward to it.

NHOR : You just mentioned a bit back that the shows at The Beacon this year not only are commemorating the band's 40th anniversary, but are also in honor of Duane Allman. What is your most cherished memory of Duane?

BT : I have so many memories of Duane. He and I used to go fishing a lot. We had a bet at the end of every year, whoever caught the biggest fish would take the other one and his date out for a big hot shot dinner. He caught the biggest fish that year, in 1971, and this was maybe a month before he died. We went out to dinner, we came back, and he sat on this bean bag and played this song he just wrote, called "Little Martha". He played it over and over and over again. We got good and stoned, and it was extremely special.

But the moment for me that has to be the most important is, I had played with Duane in a band before The Allman Brothers, The 31st of February. I heard this from Eric Clapton, and I loved the line, and that was I was riddled with self doubt. I was not the most confident of players, and if the music wasn't really going, then I tend to back off rather than push it. But I could play very well, and we all got along quite well, but that band fell apart. Duane went to Muscle Shoals, and after a run in Muscle Shoals, he came back to Jacksonville. He got very bored with the recording studio, and wanted to put together a live band. He brought Jaimoe with him. He was going to play the drums in his band. But Duane had it in his mind that if two drummers were good enough for James Brown, then it was good enough for him. So from the beginning I think Duane knew he was going to have two drummers. There were several other drummers that were part of the jams that were going on, but Jaimoe and I, when we started playing, just clicked. It just worked, from day one. Jaimoe was telling Duane that I was the guy they needed to get in the band. But I don't think Duane wanted me in the band with a lack of confidence. I think Duane finally decided, okay I'm the guy that needs to be in the band, but that I'm going to have to learn a lesson.

I can remember exactly where we were. I can remember the pine trees behind him and everything else. We were out at an AM radio station outside of Jacksonville, WAPE. We were jamming one day and we got into this jam that really wasn't going anywhere, so I started pulling back, thinking everybody's looking at me, that kind of stuff. The kind of things neurotic people do. Duane finally just whipped around, stared me in the eye, and just played this lick way up on his guitar. I was like, c'mon God damnit. At first it just kind of put me off, but about the third time he did it, I got mad. I forgot all about the fear, and I started thinking about Duane's head. I started hitting my drums like I was hitting his head. (Laughs) Without realizing it, the music just took off. Duane stepped back, smiled and pointed at me and said, "There you go." And I swear it was like he reached inside of me and flipped a switch.

From that day to this, I have never, ever been nervous. I have since thought that when things are backing off, that it's my job to make them go. To push it. That's really the main function that I serve in The Allman Brothers, and has been since that day. I'm kind of the driving force. They gave me the nickname "The Freight Train". When it's time for the music to take off, I'm the one that starts pushing it. And it was that moment, and it was like an epiphany. If it hadn't been for that moment, I would've been a math teacher whether there was The Allman Brothers or not. If I hadn't answered the call, if I hadn't turned on and came back at Duane, and just laid back and not pushed, then he never would've had me in the band. There's no doubt about that. Everybody in the band were pretty strong players, and at the time I can say I really didn't know it about myself. Finally that day Duane got me to realize, good, bad or indifferent, you give it all you've got. Without that moment my life would've been drastically different.

NHOR : It's funny how life works that way....

BT : Well, we all have our own epiphanies. At least if we're lucky we do. I was very lucky to have one, and to have known somebody strong enough to teach me that lesson. Because it takes a special person, a very special person. And Duane Allman was a very special person. Almost messianic. Powerful and intense. That fire, Eric Clapton himself has said that if it weren't for Duane, you wouldn't ever have heard of the 'Layla' album. They were down there all high as a kite with all this music and it wasn't going anywhere. Then Duane walked into the sessions and just set fire to it. I listen to the record, and everybody thinks it's Clapton playing that stuff, but most of it's Duane. We went down there. They invited us all over to the studio, and we heard what they had going, and it was okay. It was interesting, but then I heard it after Duane got through with it, and man, it was a completely different record. This was the genius of Tom Dowd, who produced it. He knew what they needed, and he went and got it. He put it in there, put Duane and Eric together. When Duane died, I'd say his three best friends in the world were Eric Clapton, John Hammond and Delaney Bramlett. Delaney just died, so sadly he won't make it to the Beacon shows.

NHOR : Speaking of guests, there's also been speculation that Dickie Betts may actually appear with the band sometime during the set of shows. I understand you've extended an invitation to Dickie to let bygones be bygones and come in honor of Duane. Has there been any response from Dickie in regards to joining up for a show or two?

BT : His manager has told our manager that there is a possibility that he will be there. Nothing definite, he hasn't said yes or no yet, but he has responded that it is possible. I hope so. Regardless of our differences, Dickie was an original member and a major part of the band for many, many years. A very dear friend of Duane's, and he deserves a chance to come and pay his respects too. We'll see.

NHOR : What's coming next for the Allman Brothers Band? It's been 6 years since the release of 'Hittin' The Note' in 2003. Can we expect a new studio album anytime soon?

BT : I don't know. With the state of the music industry, the record industry specifically these days, I don't really see the reason why. You damn sure don't do it to make money anymore. In fact, you lose a lot of money going into the studio. It's very expensive. Once kids started the whole Napster, stealing music online, I don't think they understood what they were doing. Because by doing this, they've made it so that the major bands won't go in the studio and spend that money to make records anymore. Because what's the point? If people are going to steal it, you're going to lose money, so a lot of music that would've been made, that people could have enjoyed and listened to, never got made. It's getting much worse. There are fewer and fewer major records being made, in terms of studio albums. That being said, we've always been a live band anyway. I tend to think, there's a lot of new material floating around we'd have liked to have worked up, but we just had two weeks of rehearsal. We had to spend just about all those two weeks learning a whole bunch of songs to play with all the guests who are coming to sit in with us. So we didn't get a lot of time to work on our own material. But at some point we will.

I tend to think rather than wasting six figures in a major recording studio that we'll just work up this material and start recording us playing them live. We record every show that we do on 72 track digital, so I tend to think our next album will be a compilation of new material that we've recorded live on the road. That way, we put it out, the expense is minimal, because we expect sales to be minimal. Right now the #1 seller of songs in the world is iTunes. Kids don't go to the store and buy CD's much anymore.

NHOR : Many of the brick and mortar stores are closing up shop today anyway...

BT : You're right, record stores are closing. Like I said, it's very difficult to sell your product anymore. People have to understand that this is the way we make our living. It just frustrates the hell out of me. If you've got somebody who works in a store making clocks, how would they feel if it was their store making clocks and everybody just walked in, picked them up and walked out with them? Are they going to keep making clocks? It is the same concept. No one would just normally walk into a store, pick up a shirt and walk our with it, but they don't seem to have any qualms at all about stealing songs. Like I said, these songs cost us a lot of time and money and effort. It's what we do so that we can feed our families, pay our rent. Luckily, as The Allman Brothers we do quite well playing live concerts, so we've been able to feed our families and pay our rent. In fact, it's got really good the past several years.

NHOR : What about tour plans? With Gregg's recent battle with Hepatitis C, there was understandably great concern regarding his health. Is he fully recovered and are there plans to go on tour this year beyond the Beacon shows?

BT : All of that can be put to rest. Because we did cancel last year's Beacon run, and he did take those months off, the Hepatitis C is gone. So his liver is free of the virus, and he is in the best shape I've seen him in all the time that I've known him. He's happy, joking around, he's got more energy than I've seen him have in a long, long time. He's singing his tail off. He's in the best shape in a long time. This year is probably going to be our last big blow it out year. This is our 40th anniversary, we'll do the run at the Beacon, then rather than doing 40 shows this summer, we'll be doing closer to 80. Then after this year we're just going to back up a little bit. We'll continue doing the Beacon, then we'll do 15 shows during the summer. We've promised this to Derek and Warren. They've both got their own bands they're working on, and we've asked them if they will take this year and put a lot of effort into The Allman Brothers, then we'll back off and let them work on what they're doing from now on. It's about time. It's been 40 years, I'm 61 years old now, and I still love playing and want to continue playing. But I don't mind after this year not playing so much.

NHOR : Since Derek Trucks joined the band officially in 1999, the band has been on an upward trajectory creatively. There's a consensus among many fans of the band that this is the best version of the band since Duane and Berry Oakley were alive. Would you agree with that assessment?

BT : Well I'm having more fun now than I have since then, there's no doubt about it.

NHOR : There's also going to be an Allman Brothers Band museum in Macon, GA, called the Big House, which is scheduled to be opened at the end of this year. Are you involved in that? What can fans expect when that finally opens?

BT : That's the place where Berry, Duane, Gregg and a lot of the roadies lived when we were in Macon. I was married and had a kid at the time, so I had a house. I wasn't a great fan of the communal life. At least not with my family. So I had a place on my own, but I did go and spend a lot of time at the Big House. That's where we practiced and wrote a lot of songs. We had a lot of parties, and that's where I fell on my face many times. (Laughs) It was a very special place. It has been taken, renovated and is full of Allman Brothers memorabilia. The owner is Kirk West, who is our assistant road manager. He has decided to turn it into a museum. They've set up a foundation to raise the funds to do so. For anyone who cares about the history of The Allman Brothers, and wants to know about it, it's an interesting visit. He's collected a lot of the posters, a lot of the music, the memorabilia from throughout the years. It is an interesting concept. We've all got involved in helping to raise funds, and helping to make it a reality. I hope it works well.

NHOR : In a just published interview in the Las Vegas Review - Journal with legendary photographer Jim Marshall, he claims that the reason the band were smiling on the cover of the 'Live At The Fillmore East' album cover was due to the fact that quote, " I had the only coke in Macon, Ga." And that he induced the smiling shot by saying, "'Hey guys, give me a (expletive) smiling shot, or I'm not gonna put out any coke.' And that was it. So Duane goes, 'On three, guys.' One shot." Do you recall any of that? Is that how he got the band to smile for the album cover?

BT :
That's a pile of crap. (Laughs) Jim Marshall took a lot of really great pictures, but he was a real jerk. Believe me, it was hard enough to get those six guys to get in front of a camera, talk to an interviewer, or whatever. We just didn't want to play the game that you needed to play to be rock & roll stars. We really were playing the music that we loved, and we never did expect success. The success was very surprising. A big surprise. Jim Marshall was set up in the back of our equipment truck taking pictures, basically yelling, screaming and hollering all day. We were just scowling at him. What happened was, Duane had a connection who walked up next to the truck. Duane jumped up, ran over to that connection, and he gave him a bag with a couple grams of coke in it. Jim Marshall started screaming and hollering, and Duane ran back and sat down. We all bust out laughing. If you look at the shot, Duane's got his hand between his legs, and he's got his hand covering his right hand. Inside his right hand is a couple grams of coke. As for Jim Marshall, I don't think we spoke very friendly with him. He came in as the big hot shot, and tried screaming and hollering at people that didn't cotton to getting screamed and hollered at. (Laughs)

NHOR : As you've mentioned it's been 40 years now. How long do you feel the band can go on? Can we expect a 50th Anniversary run?

BT : Who knows. We put this thing back together in 1989, and thought if we got five years out of it, it'd be a miracle. And here we are 20 years later, and I don't know. I can't imagine being 71 and getting up and playing the way I play now. For me, I have to go during the off time and spend several days a week pumping iron, keeping my muscles toned, and keeping my stamina up. Because if I don't there's no way that I can play these shows. I'm just not sure how many more years I can do that. Once I can't do that anymore, I'm not going to keep doing it. We've done a couple of things in the past which were a real embarrassment to our legacy, and I'm not going to do it again. Right now we're playing as well as we ever have, and as soon as that starts slacking off, then we're going to stop. I don't know when that will be. It hasn't happened yet.

NHOR : At the end of the day, how would you like to be remembered?

BT : As an original. As someone who added something. With the music, we've done that. I'm quite confident of that. Now I want to keep doing that as long as we can, and when we can't do it anymore, we'll stop. I think we opened the door for Southern musicians, but more than that, we also added an element to the canon which wasn't there before we came along. We really did grab Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea... people like that, and integrated that into what was known as rock music at the time. I don't think that was done before we came along. After us a lot of bands came along like The Dixie Dregs. Then from the other direction, you had bands like The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Even Miles Davis. Once we started adding those elements of jazz, some of these guys in the jazz field were hearing elements of jazz coming from the rock area, where there was a lot of money being made. Then you had albums like Miles Davis' 'Bitches Brew'. I don't think albums like that would've happened... I think we had a little influence on Miles.

There's no doubt The Mahavishnu Orchestra wouldn't have happened without The Allman Brothers. That's all they did. They put them on tour with us, then we'd have to go on stage after them. I'm telling you, that was rough. With Billy Cobham and John McLaughlin playing, with those whacko time signatures they played in. Man alive. It used to actually make me angry because the crowd just didn't get it. It was over their heads. At the time we were selling out stadiums all over the place, and they'd be on stage just playing the most incredible music you've ever heard. Then the crowd would be screaming, "ALLMAN BROTHERS!" It almost made me not want to play. You know, what's wrong with you people? (Laughs) This stuff is good. As far as a musician, that's how I'd like to be remembered, as an original. And to my children, I'd like to be remembered as a good father, and to my wife, a good husband.

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five40 said...

Awesome interview Nightwatcher! Thanks.

Emerson G. Wadsworth said...

This is a great interview. I'm a huge fan of ABB. I saw them Oct. 16 in Dallas and cried I was so happy (only other time that's happened is Buddy Guy at Austin City Limits, 2005). I'm only 23, but I got started listening to ABB's old stuff with Duane because I played slide guitar. Since then I've began to study Butch nephew, Derek Trucks very intensely. I really don't know if there will ever be a band that really compares to them.

I also checked out some of your other great interview, including the one with Joe Bonamassa! Keep up the good work! You should check out my blog on Austin night life: I do most of the music articles here and do a lot on local blues musicians.

Jeremy Spencer 2014 US Tour