Q&A: Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule Shares His Thoughts on Turning 50, Jimi Hendrix, David Allan Coe and More
Besides being ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone's Greatest Guitarists of All Time list, Warren Haynes is also one bad mother on stage.
But, off stage, the Allman Brothers/Gov't Mule guitarist turned out to be a pretty affable guy who spoke quite eloquently about a number of subjects--beginning with what he thinks about Dallas.
Have you had positive experiences when you've played Dallas in the past?
Yes, I've always had good experiences in Dallas. The last couple of times Gov't Mule has played there, the audiences have been great. It took a while because Texas is a long way from home for us. We've started to see in the last couple of years the Gov't Mule audience really growing in Dallas. There seems to be a lot of die hard music fans there.
You have your 50th birthday coming up. Does it feel like a milestone to reach that age?
I don't feel old. As a matter of fact, I feel like I am in my 30's. Somewhere along the line it didn't occurred to me how much time had past.
Besides playing with Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers, you've done stints with the Dead and quite a few others acts. It doesn't appear that you are going to slow down at 50...
This year, it's going to be a lot of Gov't Mule. We have our first studio album in three years coming out [By a Thread] and we are going to promote it a lot. That means less Allman Brothers touring and no Grateful Dead shows this year. So perhaps I am slowing down.
Do you put any stock in being named the 23rd best guitar player by Rolling Stone?
Not really. I try not to put much stock into those kinds of things because they are just people's opinions. Music is not a competitive sport. It is not something that you can measure whether this person is better than that person. If something connects with you as a listener than that's what's important. It doesn't matter why. It is nice, though, to feel like you're being recognized or honored for all the hard work that you put into something.
Jimi Hendrix is always on the top of everyone's list. Will Hendrix always be No. 1?
I can't think of anyone I would put above him. For me, the fact that the Rolling Stone list did not have Billy Gibbons or Albert King on it--those are glaring omissions.
You got your first break signing on to play guitar for David Allan Coe. What was that experience like?
Frightening. I was a 20-year-old kid who knew nothing about him or his music of that scene. I was thrust into it and had no idea it was going to be such a crazy experience. But it was through Coe that I met Dicky Betts and Greg Allman and that eventually led to me joining the Allman Brothers.
When you joined the Allman Brothers, was that the biggest crowd you had ever played for? Is it a different feeling playing to such large crowds?
I had played some shows in front of audiences that big--but not as consistently as I did after I joined the Allmans. I had the normal amount of anxiousness that is some sort of nervous energy you get before you go on stage. It's more like winding yourself up and getting prepared to play. I don't see nervous energy as a negative thing before a show.
The list of artists that you have played guitar with is pretty remarkable. Is there anyone left whom you would like to share a stage with?
Yes--starting with B.B. King. I had the opportunity to play with him many years ago and I missed it. And, of course, Carlos Santana and I have talked about doing something, but we've never got around to it. I've met Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, but never played with either one of those guys. I am sure I am leaving out some people, but for the most part, I've been very lucky to be able to play with a lot of great musicians.
Gov't Mule the House of Blues tonight.
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