1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Derek Trucks Profile

By

Blues guitarist Derek Trucks

Blues guitarist Derek Trucks

Photo by Cory Schwartz, courtesy Getty Images

Born: June 8, 1979 in Jacksonville FL

In a little more than a decade, guitarist Derek Trucks has established himself as one of the premiere slide guitarists in contemporary music, and one of the most popular blues-based artists. The unique sound of the Derek Trucks Band is an inspired combination of blues, rock, jazz, and world music that showcases not only the incredible musical chemistry of the band's members, but also the diverse tastes of the band's namesake.

Influenced by Delta blues and Southern rock, guitarist Duane Allman made a big impression on a youthful Trucks, as did bluesmen like Albert King, Elmore James, and Howlin' Wolf. Always musically curious, Trucks has also incorporated his love of jazz artists like John Coltrane and Charlie Parker into his music, as well as the influence of classic guitarists like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. During the mid-2000s, Trucks further expanded his musical vocabulary by studying Pakistani and East Indian Qawwali music.

Derek Trucks - Guitar Prodigy

The nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks grew up hearing records by the ABB and Derek & the Dominoes that featured his uncle's friend, guitarist Duane Allman. Trucks bought his first guitar, a $5 acoustic found at a yard sale, and began playing at the young age of nine. Within a year he had taught himself how to play the instrument and began performing regionally, with his father acting as his manager. Trucks formed his first band at the tender age of 12, and by the age of 15 he was performing alongside artists like Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, and Joe Walsh.

The Derek Trucks Band as we know it came together in pieces over time. Bassist Todd Smallie was the first member, the veteran Atlanta-area musician hooking up with Trucks in 1994. A year later they added drummer Yonrico Scott, an instrumental prodigy himself who, at 20 years older than Trucks, brought both life and musical experience to the band. Keyboardist and flautist Kofi Burbridge joined in 1999. In 2002 the band added vocalist Mike Mattison, who also fronts the band Scrapomatic. Atlanta-area musical legend Count M’Butu, who has played with Col. Bruce Hampton, Chuck Leavell, and others, rounds out the band.

The Allman Brothers Band

Supported by constant touring, the Derek Trucks Band released its self-titled debut album in 1997 when Trucks was 18 years old. They followed with Out of the Madness the next year. Signed to Sony's Columbia Records imprint, the band released the critically-acclaimed Joyful Noise in 2002, and Soul Serenade in 2003. Sony released a live album recorded in the band's Atlanta backyard in 2004, and Songlines in 2006. In 2009, the Trucks band released its highest-profile album to day, Already Free.

After years of performing with the Allman Brothers Band as a "special guest," Trucks became a full-time member in 1999, and has since appeared on three of the band's live albums, and the studio effort Hittin' The Note. Along with friend Warren Haynes, the two guitarists are credited with providing new fire to the Allman Brothers and prolonging the band's successful career to its 40th anniversary celebration in 2009.

Soul Stew Revival

Trucks married blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi in 2001, and the couple have two children: Charles Khalil Trucks, named for saxophonist Charlie Parker, guitarist Charlie Christian, and author Khalil Gibran. Sophia Naima Trucks, born in 2004, got her unusual middle name from the John Coltrane ballad, which was also the jazz legend's first wife's name.

Both artists tour constantly with their respective bands, but find time to perform together whenever possible. Merging their two bands together as a blues-and-roots-music "supergroup" they call Soul Stew Revival, the eleven-piece ensemble has toured the country, and appeared at the 2008 Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

No Love From The Blues Community

Aside from touring with his own band, and performing with his wife as the Soul Stew Revival, Trucks is also much in demand as a session player. He has lent his guitar talents to several of Tedeschi's recordings, as well as others by blues artists like Tinsley Ellis, Junior Wells, and Buddy Guy; Southern rockers like Widespread Panic and Gov't Mule; and even jazzmen like McCoy Tyner.

Although Trucks' major label status and steady touring has helped the artist popularize blues-based music with a rock audience, he has garnered surprisingly little love from the blues community at large, receiving no Blues Music Award nominations over the first ten years of his career.

Recommended Albums: Trucks' Songlines is where the band's musical chemistry really came together in the studio, but Live at Georgia Theatre showcases the musical chops of the assembled talents.

Derek Trucks Discography
(Click on album titles to compare prices on PriceGrabber)

  • The Derek Trucks Band (Landslide Records, 1997)

  • Out of the Madness (House Of Blues, 1998)

  • Joyful Noise (Columbia Records, 2002)

  • Soul Serenade (Columbia Records, 2003)

  • Live at Georgia Theatre (Sony Music, 2004)

  • Songlines (Sony Music, 2006)

  • Already Free (RCA Records, 2009)
Related Video
Derek Mears Interview - Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th
Add Album Art to iTunes

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.