Warren Haynes was The Allman Brothers Band's guitarist from 1989-1997 and 2000-2014. He co-wrote many songs with Gregg Allman -- including "End Of The Line," "All Night Train," "Sailin' Across The Devil's Sea," "Firing Line" and "High Cost of Living" -- for latter-day Allmans albums.
Fresh from a Saturday night performance at the Summer Camp festival where his band Gov't Mule paid tribute to Allman with performances of "Dreams" and "Whipping Post," an emotional Haynes shared his feelings about Allman's passing.
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It's devastating, y'know? It's a huge loss, and I'm still not quite over the shock.
Derek Trucks and I went to see him (during late April), and we had not seen him in awhile. It was good to catch up, and we just kind of told stories for a few hours and gave him positive thought. Things haven't been good for a long time, and he could've surprised everybody and held out for a really long time. In this case it didn't take long.
I was on the road when I received the news. [Allmans manager] Bert Holman called me shortly after it happened, and of course the rest of the world found out pretty quickly. We were at a festival that's run by moe. and Umphrey's McGee, and we invited some of the members of each band to join us early in the set on "Dreams," and as a closer on "Whipping Post." I guess there's two ways of looking at it: One way is, "Let's try to let the music be part of the healing process," and the other way is, "What the hell am I doing here?"
Gregg was very special to me. Being a lot younger, I heard the first Allman Brothers Band record in 1969 when it came out. My older brother had it, and I was nine years old. I had not even started playing guitar yet. The first thing that struck me was Gregg's voice, and how unique and captivating it was. He was just one of those rare singers that everything that came out of his mouth felt natural and unpretentious, and it made the connection very genuine. It was just an honest musical connection that his voice made with listeners.
We met in 1981, I was 21 years old and he was very, very encouraging and complimentary toward me at that time, and we had some nice conversations. Not too long after that I started doing some stuff with [ABB singer/guitarist] Dickey Betts. I was starting to write songs with Dickey, and then Gregg recorded my song "Just Before the Bullets Fly." So when they invited me to join the Allman Brothers in '89, I had kind of had a little buffer zone where I wasn't just completely being thrown into the fire. But I was still intimidated. The Allman Brothers were possibly my favorite band of all time, and I was a huge fan of Gregg, but he was very disarming and had a way of making me feel comfortable from the beginning and that really kind of helped my situation in that band and made it a lot easier.
Gregg was always shy and soft-spoken, never intended harm on anyone. I think it pained him to see anybody being hurt. And as a collaborator we wrote a lot of songs together, and he was never in a hurry to finish them. He always had a much more relaxed approach, and in some cases we would stop working on a song and we'd say, "Yeah, we'll get back to that at another time." And he was that way from the time I first met him. He just never wanted to rush the songwriting process, and a lot of us kinda come from that school of we're in the moment now, let's keep this going. And in each case we would always get back together and finish the tunes when the time was right. There's one (unfinished) song that may present itself; everything else I think we finished and recorded.
He loved scary movies, which was never my thing -- I'm definitely not a big horror movie fan, but for some reason he really had an affinity for those types of movies which was kind of strange to me. It was always me and him and Allen Woody on the same bus in the beginning; For the first eight years the three of us were always on a bus together, and our bus was the fun bus.
I just think he`s one of the greatest artists of all time and simultaneously a founding member and singer-songwriter of one of the greatest bands of all time, and I can say that because that's the way I felt before I knew any of those guys. I was the biggest Allman Brothers fan from the very beginning. He changed the way people perceived music, and as a singer, so many people were influenced by him. So many people that came after Gregg were influenced by him and he wrote these great, honest songs that connected with people because they were real.
There are very few singers very few artists that made that kind of impact. I think we're gonna see all over the world examples of how much impact he had.