Bob Roux | Live Nation
Derek Trucks’ uncle may have been Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, but his dad was a roofer and his mom worked in a Jacksonville, Florida, elementary school. For a time, he seemed to be destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. His wife, bandmate Susan Tedeschi, leaned more toward theater when she was a child, performing in her first play when she was four years old.
Later on, Trucks was coming off a roofing job when he realized music seemed like a lot more fun, and went all in. When it was time to make college choices, Tedeschi considered theater, music and marine biology. She chose music.
Trucks had been in bands since he was 9 years old, but says meeting Georgia legend Colonel Bruce Hampton when he was 12 changed him.
“I think when I started taking it seriously was when, returning off a roof outside of Macon, Georgia, between gigs and I remember thinking, ‘This is not fun. This music thing is much better. I think I’ll practice more,’” Trucks said. “I remember meeting Colonel Bruce Hampton, and he really changed a lot of musicians’ lives. He showed you a different side of things that kind of took musicians and destroyed their ego and then rebuilt them better. But he would make you really figure out why you were doing it. What are you doing it for? Why are you doing this? And around the same time, I did a recording session with Tom Dowd, and it was the same thing. ‘If you’re in this for money, there’s other ways to go. But you have to be a lifer’
“At an early age, I was lucky to be around some incredible people and, just had a natural inclination for it. And you just put your head down and you go. We’re really stubborn about the music along the way and shocked that we made it on any level. We were doing 300 days a year in clubs for 10 years. And, we’re kind of like, ‘This is great. I will do this forever.’”
Tedeschi was also playing in bands by the time she was 13, and attended Berklee College of Music, graduating at 20.
“I was still sort of finding myself, Tedeschi said. “It really wasn’t until after college that I started sitting in a blues band and doing things like that, but I had been in rock bands and country bands. I was an overachiever. When I started my own band, that was really quite an awakening because I had been doing everything from waitressing and working whatever. When I started my own band, I went from making a lot of good money to making no money, but at least I was happy. So that was the big turning point for me.”
Bob Roux, Live Nation President of North American Touring, led the duo through a conversation spanning their careers – Derek Trucks has toured with the Allman Brothers, Band and his own Derek Trucks Band before teaming with his wife, Susan Tedeschi, whom he met when she opened for the Allmans. She’s also toured with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble, and had her own band which she merged with Derek’s to form Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010.
Roux first encountered Tedeschi and Trucks when he was promoting Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. Trucks had “no plan B, which was awesome,” Roux said. “That’s why I love both these guys so much. This is like the real dream; they’re partners and they win because they both speak from the heart.”
Both Trucks and Tedeschi have musical histories that harken back to not only the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and classic blues-based rock of the 1960s and ‘70s, but they recognized that they were not going to take the same paths that many of their heroes did.
“We did everything out of order,” Derek says. “It took a good 10 years before we decided whether we could maybe work together. Then we had children, and then we got married. I was on the road with my solo band and Clapton’s band and all that. These guys, who were playing in the ‘70s and late ‘60s, they were kind of human experiments They were the first rock stars and a lot of broken families and children that didn’t talk to the parents. We were not going to go down that route. I was ready for a change with my solo band and I told Sue, ‘I think I’m going to do something entirely different.’ .
“So I asked her if she was into me because things were going great. Her career was going great. I sang with my group, things were on the up, but sometimes you can see around the corner and you can tell maybe you’re running out of gas and ideas and maybe it’s time to shake it up. And, you know, the way she sings and plays. We thought it’d be an incredible time to start from scratch. She was into it and we we did it. And, you know, there was some headwinds at first. There were people, some of her audience that didn’t like stretching things out and improvising. And there was some of our audience that didn’t like that.”
If their respective audiences thought of Tedeschi as Derek’s Yoko Ono, they’re good with that. “I took I as a compliment, Derek as John Lennon and me as Yoko Ono? I’ll take it!, Tedeschi joked.
“We’ve been really blessed,” she continued. “We also came into the industry right before it all changed. I noticed a huge change. Right at the end of the 90s everything changed. The record stores were gone and it was a different world. Honestly I feel like kids are missing out. There’s a lot lost in digital. You’re missing really beautiful things that you don’t know you’re missing, as well as all the information. I wish we could get back to that a little bit more, or at least how to educate the the kids about how to really make a record. It’s not just on the laptop in the garage.”
Tedeschi and Trucks are continuing to shake things up, some 20 years later. Front Line Management’s Andy Mendelsohn has joined the team and they are all looking at ways to freshen their approach to touring and take a step to the next level, including the way they approach multiple shows at venues like the revered Beacon Theatre in New York.
“We used to do seven nights at the Beacon every year, and we could have stretched it out. But it would also be fun to do the [Madison Square] Garden and see if we do that,” Trucks explained. “We’re reimagining things we do. And another thing, we’ve been on the road with the Allman Brothers for years. I started noticing we’re doing the same venues the same month, every year, and people can plan for it. And f you can’t make it, go catch it next year. But that kind of takes the excitement out of it a little bit.
“So we’re in the middle reimagining this thing coming out of the pandemic. We’re both 30 years into our careers individually and more excited now than ever to do it. There’s a lot of meat on it. We’re on the road with people like, which is really amazing, and it makes a big difference.