The mysterious death in West Palm Beach of Butch Trucks, the co-founding drummer of The Allman Brothers Band, was a suicide, according to police records.
Trucks, 69, shot himself in the head with a pistol as his wife of 25 years stood near him in their downtown West Palm Beach condo, the records show.
While authorities have only said so far that the death was under investigation while foul play wasn’t suspected, the transcript of a frantic call made to West Palm Beach Police about 6:00 p.m. Tuesday provides the shocking details of the rock’n’roller’s death at home in the downtown waterfront Villa Del Lago complex.
A woman caller who is unidentified on the transcript but described as “hysterical” dialed 911 and told the dispatcher her “husband just shot himself” with a pistol.
The caller used Trucks’ real first name, Claude, when she identified the victim.
The caller continued talking to the dispatcher although she was so distraught she couldn’t speak in complete sentences. She did manage to say a pistol was involved and the victim shot himself in the head.
At that point, the dispatcher asked if the victim was breathing, and caller said she wasn’t sure at first but then confirmed he was breathing.
The dispatcher then radioed the half-dozen cars responding that Trucks’ wife, painter Melinda Trucks, and a son were waiting for police in the hallway outside the condo. Trucks had two adult children, a daughter and a son, Atlanta-based musician Vaylor Trucks.
The dispatcher noted on her cryptic report that Melinda witnessed Trucks pulling the trigger.
Although he was breathing when police arrived, the man considered by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 10 drummers in rock history expired seconds later as the dispatcher concluded the call by noting a “Signal 7,” police code for a dead person.
Police refused to comment but put out a statement confirming that Trucks died in his condo, and investigators did not suspect foul play despite the fact the incident officially still is under investigation.
The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy Wednesday, but the results won’t be known for weeks.
Todd Brodginski, Trucks’ publicist, didn’t return repeated calls asking whether the musician appeared depressed as of late.
A consummate Floridian, Trucks was born in the Jacksonville area and, by age 8, played drums with local bands. He was playing a gig in Daytona in the late 60s when he was approached by Gregg and Duane Allman.
Together, they formed The Allman Brothers Band, which became one of the 70s most popular concert bands.
Trucks moved to the Palm Beach area in the early 1990s. He and Melinda had become stalwarts on the local charity circuit and often made appearances at high-profile dinners to benefit non-profit groups.
Wearing his trademark handlebar mustache on April 30, 2016, Trucks got to perform three blocks from the condo: He played SunFest 2016 with his Freight Train Band.