Yesterday, the music world was shaken by the loss of Gregg Allman, the second founding  Allman Brothers Band member to leave pass away in 2017 following the January death of drummer Butch Trucks. Unsurprisingly, in the hours since the news broke, countless artists (including Dead & CompanyPhil LeshTedeschi Trucks BandUmphrey’s McGee, and more) have already paid their respects to the singer/multi-instrumentalist through music. But perhaps the most jarring and emotionally charged tribute yet has come from guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes, who played with Gregg and the Allman Brothers for nearly 30 years before their final performances in 2014.

Yesterday, as Warren and his current band, Gov’t Mule, were in Chillicothe, IL preparing for their main stage set at Summer Camp Music Festival, the news of Allman’s death began to spread rapidly through the Internet and the festival grounds. Just two hours before Mule was set to take the stage, Haynes released a touching letter of remembrance on his Facebook page, attempting to explain the indescribably significant impact that Allman had on him as a musician and a man:

RIP Gregg Allman – I am at a loss for words. I was moved by Gregg’s voice when I first heard the Allman Brothers Band in 1969. I was nine years old. I had not even picked up a guitar yet but thanks to my to older brothers I had been exposed to a lot of great soul music with the best singers in the world. But this was something different. This music was making a deep emotional connection with me even though it was too complex for me to really understand. Somehow, though, it had this “common man” quality that allowed that music to connect with people on so many different levels without analyzing the ingredients that went into it-soul, blues, rock, country, jazz-all mixed together in a way no one had ever done before. And on top of it all was this beautiful voice that could be soothing, terrifying, mellow, angry, and amazingly natural and soulful all at the same time-and instantly captivating. It drew me in. It drew us all in. 

Over the next few years I would begin to play guitar as everyone of my music loving friends became Allman Brothers’ freaks. That music spoke to anyone who heard it but in the South it resonated with us. It spoke volumes. It brought a voice to people like myself in the midst of some confusing, ever-changing times. Here was this group of Southern hippies with an integrated band coming out of the Deepest South with equally deep music on the heels of some extremely deep changes. We didn’t realize how heavy that was at the time but we sure realized how heavy the music was. Every guitar player in every Southern town was listening to the Live at Fillmore East record and worshipping at the altar of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. But the icing on the cake was always Gregg’s voice. That’s what separated the ABB from being a band that only connected with music freaks. Women whom previously had only listened to the radio would tolerate the long jams to get to the parts where Gregg melted their souls with that angelic voice. It turned casual music fans into fanatical fans who were discovering a new multi-dimensional music that a few years prior wasn’t even in existence. And it was all due to Gregg’s voice-and the songs.

He wrote these amazing songs that were as natural as his voice was. The words and melodies felt so perfectly unpretentious and, when delivered by him, made an emotional connection that only happens when music is genuine and honest. I learned an enormous amount about singing and songwriting from him-most of it before we ever met. 

I am truly honored to have been fortunate enough to have written many songs with him and equally honored to have traveled the world with him while making the best music the world has ever known. I will never, ever take that for granted. And on top of all that-he was my dear friend.
My fondest memories will always be of Gregg, myself, and Allen Woody sharing a tour bus together-listening to great music and laughing our asses off mile after mile. Traveling- like life- is so much better when you’ve got friends to share the experience with. I’ve lost too many lately and this one is gonna be hard to get past. There is some comfort in knowing that millions of people all over the world feel the same way.

I love you Gregory – WH

Mule’s set carried the weight of Warren’s fallen friend, mentor, and collaborator from the moment he, drummer Mat Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis, and bassist Jorgen Carlsson took the stage, as the crowd and musicians alike still ached from the fresh wound of Allman’s loss. The show began with “Traveling Tune,” a road-weary tune off their upcoming record that bears the spirit of the “Ramblin'” Allman. Next, the band welcomed Vinnie Amico, Chuck Garvey, and Jim Loughlin of moe. for a special rendition of the Allman Brothers Band’s”Dreams” from their 1969 self-titled debut.

Next up was “Thorazine Shuffle” from Mule’s ’98 LP Dose, followed by the gritty title track from their forthcoming album Revolution Come… Revolution Go. A moving rendition The Beatles‘ Revolver track “And Your Bird Can Sing” came next, before the band delivered a pair of live Mule favorites: “Scenes From A Troubled Mind” and “Time To Confess.”

Umphrey’s McGee percussionist Andy Farag then joined the band onstage for a ripping “Mule,” before the other half of the Umphrey’s percussion section (Kris Myers) and moe.‘s Al Schnier entered the fray for a cathartically unhinged rendition of Allmans magnum opus “Whipping Post” featuring notes of “Les Brers In A Minor” to close the impassioned performance. You can watch footage of the majority of Gov’t Mule’s emotionally raw Summer Camp set below, via the festival’s Facebook page.

SETLIST: Gov’t Mule | Summer Camp Music Festival | Chillicothe, IL | 5/27/17

SET: Traveling Tune*, Dreams**, Thorazine Shuffle, Revolution Come… Revolution Go, And Your Bird Can Sing^, Scenes From A Troubled Mind, Time To Confess, Mule^^, Whipping Post*^

*w/ Jim Loughlin
**Allman Brothers cover, w/ Vinnie Amico, Chuck Garvey & Jim Loughlin
^ Beatles cover
^^ w/ Andy Farag
*^ Allman Brothers cover, w/ Kris Myers, Al Schnier & Andy Farag; Les Brers In A Minor tease

Gov’t Mule continues their current tour at DelFest tonight, before heading to Europe for a run of shows beginning in Bilbao, Spain on June 3rd. For more information or tickets to any upcoming shows, head to the band’s website.

Rest in peace, Gregg.

[Cover photo via Andrew O’Brien]