How Tedeschi Trucks Band's Triumphant New Album, 'Signs,' Was Shaped by Sadness and Grief

This photo of the Tedeschi Trucks Band shows keyboardist Kofi Burbridge [second from left], who died at age 57 on February 15, 2019, the day the band’s new album, Signs, was released (Image credit: Shervin Lainez)

Many of the lyrics on the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s fourth studio album, Signs, address loss, grief, shock and the spark and joy of life that prompt us to carry on in the face of tragedy and adversity. The songs grew out of an extremely difficult period for guitarists Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. In the first few months of 2017, the husband-and-wife bandleaders were rocked by the loss of three musical giants with whom they were personally and professionally very close. In January, Derek’s uncle, Butch Trucks, founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, committed suicide. On May 1, guitarist and Hampton Grease Band founder Col. Bruce Hampton collapsed on stage in the midst of his own 70th birthday celebration at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, surrounded by friends including Trucks, Tedeschi and Warren Haynes. On May 27, Gregg Allman succumbed to liver cancer. The losses rocked the couple to their core.

“These were guys in the center of our musical and personal lives,” Trucks says. “It was jarring to imagine and confront the reality of a world without those characters in it — and you can include Leon Russell, who died in November [2016], and B.B. King, whose [2015] death was the first one that changed the whole scene.”

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Alan Paul

Alan Paul is the author of three books, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, One Way Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers Band – which were both New  York Times bestsellers – and Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, a memoir about raising a family in Beijing and forming a Chinese blues band that toured the nation. He’s been associated with Guitar World for 30 years, serving as Managing Editor from 1991-96. He plays in two bands: Big in China and Friends of the Brothers, with Guitar World’s Andy Aledort.