Born: April 6, 1960 in Asheville NC
In another era, guitarist Warren Haynes would have been deemed a guitar hero on the same level as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, or Jeff Beck. Although he was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as #23 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Haynes has managed to fly beneath the pop culture radar for much of his career.
One of the possible reasons for this oversight has been his sparse catalog of solo work, the guitarist seemingly preferring to work in a band format with his Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers Band. For Haynes, however, the joy is in the pure music-making, and he has also toured with Phil Lesh & Friends and the Dead and has frequently performed alongside the Dave Matthews Band.
From Soul Greats To David Allen Coe
Considering his immense skills with the instrument, it's surprising to discover that Warren Haynes' first love was singing. Inspired by the records of R&B and soul singers like Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, and others that were played for him by his older brothers, Haynes began developing his voice at the age of eight years old. When he discovered rock & roll and blues-rock through the work of Eric Clapton and Cream at the age of twelve, however, he picked up a guitar and quickly mastered the instrument.
As a teen, Haynes' musical tastes expanded to include blues artists like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. He would play in a number of local bands around Asheville, North Carolina before being asked to join regional favorites Richochet. While playing in a local club, the guitarist came to the attention of David Allen Coe's bassist Mickey Hayes, who recommended Haynes for the band's lead guitar position. Haynes joined Coe's band at the age of 20, and spent almost three years touring and recording with the outlaw country star, contributing to nine of Coe's early-1980s albums.
The Allman Brothers Band
Commuting from Asheville to Nashville to record with Coe, Haynes decided to pull up stakes, moving to the Music City to pursue session work. Haynes spent much of the 1980s in Nashville, sharing an apartment with former bandmate Hayes, the two teaming with guitarist Dennis Robbins in a band called Rich Hippies. Haynes picked up studio work, mostly as a backing vocalist, and played with blues-rock band the Nighthawks. In 1987, Haynes got a gig doing vocals on a Dickey Betts solo album. Betts remembered meeting Haynes and hearing him play with Coe, and offered him a job with his band.
In 1989, the members of the Allman Brothers Band got together and decided to reunite the band, which had been largely dormant since the early 1980s. Betts recommended Haynes for the lead guitar slot. Haynes' involvement helped light a fire under the ABB, and he would contribute to two studio and one live album during a period widely considered to be a critical and commercial revival for the band. Although Haynes would leave the Allman's in 1997 to pursue Gov't Mule as his full-time gig, he rejoined the band in 2000 in the wake of Betts' departure, playing alongside young fretburner Derek Trucks.
Warren Haynes & Gov't Mule
During a brief hiatus, Haynes finished a long-planned solo album, releasing Tales Of Ordinary Madness in 1993. The album featured Haynes' skills as a songwriter and vocalist and won critical acclaim for its mix of guitar-driven classic rock and blues. This is the same artistic tact that Haynes would take when he and ABB bassist Allen Woody formed Gov't Mule with drummer Matt Abts as a musical side project in 1995. The trio released three studio and two live albums before Woody tragically died in 2000, a few months after the release of the Mule's Life Before Insanity album.
As much as he is known for his fiery guitar playing, Haynes is also well-known for his charity work. In December 1989, Haynes held what he called "The Christmas Jam, Musician's X-Mas Reunion" in his hometown of Asheville to raise money for Habitat For Humanity. Over the past 20 years, the event has grown and the guests are better-known, and annual The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam has featured performances from folks like Gregg Allman, John Popper of Blues Traveler, Living Colour, Little Feat, and many others through the years.
Truckin' With The Dead
In early 2009, Haynes helped the Allman Brothers Band celebrate their 40th anniversary with a sold-out 15-night stand at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. While he had performed with various members of the Grateful Dead through the years, he joined the surviving members of the band as The Dead during their 2009 summer tour. He continues to pursue his unique vision of blues-rock fusion with Gov't Mule, and launched his own label, Evil Teen Records, in 2007 to release music from his own archive as well as from new artists.
Recommended Albums: Considering Haynes' extensive resume, it's hard to believe that he's released few albums under his own name. His solo debut, Tales Of Ordinary Madness is a great showcase for the guitarist's blazing blues-rock style, while Live At Bonnaroo, which documents a 2003 acoustic/electric solo set at the Tennessee festival, shows a different side of Haynes' talents. Haynes paid tribute to the Southern soul music he loves with 2011's acclaimed Man In Motion album.
Warren Haynes - Select Discography
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