In addition to singing and playing acoustic and electric guitar, Haynes is also a songwriter. He spent his formative years in Asheville, North Carolina, where he was born, and lived with his two older brothers and his father, Edward Haynes. He began playing guitar at age 12. His primary guitar is a Gibson Les Paul '58 Reissue Electric Guitar. His choice of a '58 is most likely because of Duane Allman's famed '58 Les Paul and the tone he achieved with that, rather than the more commonly used '59 Les Paul model, popularized by guitarists such as Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
Haynes has referred to himself as a "Gibson man", often playing Gibson Firebird and Gibson ES-335 models as well as the Les Paul models. This was acknowledged by the American guitar maker Gibson Guitar Corp. which has included a limited edition Warren Haynes signature Les Paul in its product line. Built according to Haynes' specifications and modeled on his '58 Les Paul. Haynes is married to Stefani Scamardo, a DJ for Sirius radio and the long-time manager of Gov't Mule.
In a 2006 interview with Gibson.com's Backstage Pass Haynes explains his early influences: "When I first started – chronologically speaking – Hendrix and Clapton and Johnny Winter were the first three people I got turned on to. That was the Cream era of Clapton. Then eventually, I heard the Allman Brothers and everybody else from that era that I stole something from (laughs). Of course, I would read interviews with all these people and find out who they listened to. And they all listened to B.B. King and Freddie King and Albert King and Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and Elmore James, so I would go back and discover that stuff."
Warren Haynes joined David Allan Coe's touring and recording band in 1980 when he was 20 years old. He remained with Coe's band for four years.
Shortly after, Haynes got a gig with The Nighthawks, while continuing to play with local musicians and doing session guitar and vocal work. One notable achievement of this period is a song he co-wrote with Dennis Robbins and Bobby Boyd for country musician Garth Brooks, titled "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House", which was released on the album No Fences and remained the number 1 single on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for twenty weeks.
Around 1987, Haynes got a call to perform backup vocals on a studio album by Dickey Betts, along with Dennis Robbins. Betts, who had concentrated on his solo career following the break-up of The Allman Brothers Band, decided to add Haynes to his band as his guitarist after the session. With Matt Abts on drums and Johnny Neel on keyboards, the now formed Dickey Betts Band released the 1988 album Pattern Disruptive. In the same year, Haynes also co-wrote the title track for Gregg Allman's solo album Just Before the Bullets Fly.
In 1989, The Allman Brothers Band decided to reunite, and Betts recruited Haynes to join the band. Also joining were Neel on keyboards and Allen Woody on bass guitar. Haynes has since played on four well-received studio albums, including the gold certified Where It All Begins (1994). It was that same year when Warren played to his biggest audience ever with the Allman Brothers at Woodstock '94. Haynes and Woody left the group in March 1997 to focus solely on their side project Gov't Mule. Shortly after Woody's untimely death on August 26, 2000, Haynes began appearing with The Allman Brothers Band again in 2000 alongside young guitar prodigy Derek Trucks. He returned to the band as a full-time member a few months later and has remained active every year with the Allman Brothers since. He also has played on four official live releases from the band, including the 2003 DVD Live at the Beacon Theatre. On January 8, 2014, Haynes and Trucks jointly announced their respective plans to leave the ABB by the end of 2014, following the conclusion of the band's celebration of its 45th anniversary.
In 1994, Haynes formed Gov't Mule with Abts and Woody. Haynes and Woody initially split time between Gov't Mule and The Allman Brothers Band, but after The Allman Brothers' last show of their 1997 run at New York's Beacon Theatre on March 26, 1997, both left the band to focus on Gov't Mule full-time. They released three albums and became known for their powerful live performances. Some of these performances have been released as official live albums (Live at Roseland Ballroom, Live ... With A Little Help From Our Friends and Mulennium; the latter two capture consecutive New Year's Eve shows).
On August 26, 2000, Allen Woody died unexpectedly. Following his death, a decision was made to finish the tour acoustically as the "Smile at Half-Mast" tour. Gov't Mule released two studio albums (The Deep End, Volume 1 and The Deep End, Volume 2) and a live album/DVD (The Deepest End, Live in Concert) featuring many of Woody's favorite bass players. In 2003, Andy Hess (bass) and Danny Louis (keyboard/organ) were added as permanent members to the group. Late the following year, this lineup released their first studio effort, Deja Voodoo, which later included an EP of newly recorded material titled Mo Voodoo. After recording 2006's High & Mighty, Gov't Mule also released a dub EP titled Mighty High and a DVD titled Tale of 2 Cities that contained two full performances recorded in 2004 and 2006. The two shows on the DVD captured the first show of the Deja Voodoo Tour and the last show of the High & Mighty Tour, serving to encapsulate what was created over those two years. In 2008, Andy Hess left Gov't Mule to pursue other projects and was replaced by relative unknown, Jorgen Carlsson. By a Thread, the first studio album from Gov't Mule featuring Carlsson, was released in 2009 on Haynes' own label, Evil Teen Records.
In 2010, they went back to the vault and released Mulennium, a three-disc recording of a show from New Year's Eve 1999 in Atlanta. This was the first official recording released of the original trio since the death of Allen Woody in 2000. It also featured an appearance by Little Milton, one of Haynes's guitar heroes from his youth.
Since the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, Haynes has performed and toured with many of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead. In 1997, Haynes and Abts came onstage to jam with Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman in a small club. The performance was being filmed for Robert Mugge's film on Robert Johnson, Hellhound on My Trail. Then in 1999, Phil Lesh approached him to play lead guitar and sing for his solo group Phil Lesh & Friends, where he played for 3 years. In 2004, when The Dead (remaining members of the Grateful Dead) were in need of a new guitarist, they called upon Haynes to come play lead and sing for that summer's "Wave That Flag Tour". His run with The Dead ended on a night where he came in with them, then performed a solo acoustic set, and then ended the night playing with The Allman Brothers Band and started out on his next tour with them. He played lead guitar for The Dead again in late 2008 when they performed at a benefit at Penn State for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, later touring with them in the spring of 2009.
In 1993, Haynes released his first solo album, Tales of Ordinary Madness, which was produced by former Allman Brother keyboardist Chuck Leavell. He toured briefly in support of the record with various musicians, including Danny Louis.
In 2003 and 2004, Haynes released two solo acoustic albums, The Lone EP, a collection of live performances and Live From Bonnaroo which documents his solo performance (part acoustic, part electric) at the 2003 Bonnaroo Music Festival. When not touring with one of his electric bands, Haynes will often take time out to do solo acoustic shows, which include a variety of well-known and rare covers along with his own material. In 2004, Warren Haynes performed five full-length solo acoustic shows, as well as opened 23 times for The Dead and once for The Allman Brothers Band.
He has also made 45 song appearances and 28 concert appearances with Dave Matthews Band, including on two released live albums: Live at Central Park Concert in which he performed "Cortez the Killer", and "Jimi Thing", and Live at Piedmont Park where he performed "What Would You Say".
In 2005, Haynes performed a one time only show under the name Warren Haynes & Friends. The band included Abts on drums, Dave Schools of Widespread Panic on bass, John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood and Skerik, the avant-garde sax player of bands such as Critters Buggin' and Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. The group played a selection of blues songs, including songs of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, and Gov't Mule standards. The band was also featured as the house band during a number of tapings of Last Call with Carson Daly in early February 2005. During one of these tapings, the scheduled musical act was absent, so Haynes performed an acoustic rendition of U2's One. The song also appeared on his Live from Bonnaroo album. In 2008, Haynes covered the Bob Dylan song "I Shall Be Released" with Coheed and Cambria, as part of an encore the band played during their shows in support of Neverender.
After recording Gov't Mule's By a Thread album, Haynes formed The Warren Haynes Band. The group included George Porter, Jr. on bass, Ivan Neville on keys and Raymond Weber on drums. Also joining them on keys was Ian McLagan, as well as vocalist Ruthie Foster and Ron Holloway on tenor sax. The Warren Haynes Band made their debut performance at Haynes' annual Christmas Jam in Asheville, North Carolina on December 11, 2010. The album Man in Motion was released in May 2011 and debuted in the Billboard Top 20. An extensive tour occurred after the release through the rest of 2011; the touring version of the band included Holloway, drummer Terence Higgins of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, bassist Ron Johnson, keyboardist Nigel Hall, and various vocalists, either Foster, Alfreda Gerald, or Alecia Chakour.
The Warren Haynes Band's "Live at The Moody Theater" 2CD/1DVD package came out in April 2012 on Stax Records. The lineup on the recording consisted of Warren Haynes (lead vocals and guitar), Ron Holloway (saxophone), Ron Johnson (bass), Terence Higgins (drums), Nigel Hall (keyboards) and Alecia Chakour (backing vocals).
Haynes has stated that his further solo efforts might take him into still other fields. "There are other projects I want to do, too," he relates. "I'm interested in recording a singer-songwriter oriented album with more acoustic instruments, a jazzy instrumental CD and a straight-up blues record. But like Man in Motion, those albums will have to wait until the time is right."
Starting in 1988, Haynes put together an annual charity benefit show, inviting musicians originally from his home town of Asheville who were home for Christmas, the only time of year they would all be in town at the same time. The first show, held at the 45 Cherry club in Asheville on December 29, 1988, was dubbed "The Christmas Jam: Musician's X-Mas Reunion." Some of the artists at the first Christmas Jam were Warren Haynes, Mike Barnes, Matt Sluder, The Crystal Zoo, The Stripp Band, Ronnie Burgin and the McBad Brothers Band.
In the initial years the proceeds from the concert were donated to various charities but eventually the organizers decided to focus on Habitat for Humanity, a charity that builds houses for the disadvantaged. In tribute to his financial support of Habitat for Humanity, a subdivision in Lower Hominy, North Carolina, a suburban township near Asheville, has a street named after Haynes. In 2002, Haynes was presented with the key to the city by Asheville mayor Charles Worley. In 2003, Worley proclaimed December 18 as "Warren Haynes Day" in Asheville.
The event has continued to grow every year and is now dubbed "Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam." Due to increasing audience demand, the show was eventually moved to the Asheville Civic Center. In 2008, for its twentieth anniversary, "The Christmas Jam" consisted of two nights of music; including "The Christmas Jam By Day," a series of events including daytime concerts, movie screenings, and art, photo, and poster exhibits taking place in downtown Asheville on the days leading up to the show. The event reverted to one night in 2009, but retained "The Christmas Jam By Day," and included the new "Christmas Comedy Jam." The same format was repeated in 2010.
Haynes has recorded two instructional videos: Electric Blues & Slide Guitar and Acoustic Slide and the art of Electric Improvisation. He discusses his influences and shows an array of techniques such as "call and response", string bending, vibrato, slide guitar in standard tuning and some acoustic open tuning licks in G and E tunings. For the demonstrations of the electric improvisation section of the second video, he is accompanied by Allen Woody and Matt Abts.
All of Warren Haynes' projects allow audio taping and trading. He does not approve of video recording or photography of his performances and does not provide access to soundboard patches. The Allman Brothers Band also allows taping and trading, but does not allow distribution of their shows via the internet using such applications as BitTorrent. The reason given for this restriction is that it is more communal to trade person-to-person. In a 2005 USA Today article, Haynes stated that while tape-trading may cut into band profits, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks due to an increased fanbase.
This discography lists those releases involving Warren Haynes, including his various bands, other projects and guest appearances.Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1993
The Lone EP, 2003 (live)
Live at Bonnaroo, 2004 (live)
Man in Motion, 2011
"Do You Feel Like We Do", bonus track on the 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition reissue of Frampton Comes Alive! by Peter Frampton, 2011
Live at the Moody Theater, 2012 (live CD/DVD)
Ashes & Dust, 2015 (featuring Railroad Earth)
Seven Turns, 1990
Shades of Two Worlds, 1991
An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: First Set, 1992 (live)
Where It All Begins, 1994
An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set, 1995 (live)
Hittin' the Note, 2003 – also production credits
One Way Out, 2004 (live) – also production credits
Play All Night: Live at the Beacon Theatre 1992, 2014 (live) – also production credits
Gov't Mule, 1995
Live at Roseland Ballroom, 1996 (live)
Live... With a Little Help from Our Friends, 1999 (live)
Life Before Insanity, 2000
Wintertime Blues: The Benefit Concert, 2000 (live)
The Deep End, Volume 1, 2001
The Deep End, Volume 2, 2002
The Deepest End, Live in Concert, 2003 (live)
Deja Voodoo, 2004
Mo' Voodoo (EP), 2005
High & Mighty, 2006
Mighty High, 2007
Holy Haunted House, 2007 (live)
By a Thread, 2009
Mulennium, 2010 (live)
Dark Side of the Mule, 2014 (live)
Sco-Mule, 2015 (live)
Dub Side of the Mule, 2015 (live)
The Tel-Star Sessions, 2016
Revolution Come...Revolution Go, 2017
The Central Park Concert, 2003 (live)
Live at Piedmont Park, 2007 (live)
Live Trax Vol. 20 (live)
Out of the Madness, 1998 – vocal obligato and lead guitar on "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl", "Forty-Four" and "Death Letter"
Already Free, 2009 – writing credits on "Back Where I Started"
Blues Traveler - Four, 1994 - pedal steel guitar on "The Mountains Win Again"
The Bottle Rockets – Blue Sky, 2003 – guitar on "Lucky Break", "I Don't Wanna Go Back", "Cartoon Wisdom", "Mom & Dad" and "I.D. Blues"
Garth Brooks – No Fences, 1990 – writing credits on "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House"
Buckwheat Zydeco – Lay Your Burden Down, 2009 – writing credits and slide guitar on "Lay Your Burden Down"
Jack Casady – Dream Factor, 2003 – lead guitar on "Outside" and "Sweden"
David Allan Coe – Live – If That Ain't Country..., 1997 (live)
Corrosion of Conformity – America's Volume Dealer, 2000 – slide guitar on "Stare Too Long"
Dickey Betts Band – Pattern Disruptive, 1988
Peter Frampton – Fingerprints, 2006 – guitar on "Blooze"
Gregg Allman Band – Just Before the Bullets Fly, 1988 – writing credits on "Before the Bullets Fly"
Beth Hart – 37 Days, 2007 – writer of "Soul Shine"
Kevn Kinney (of Drivin N Cryin) – The Flower & The Knife, 2000 – producer; guitar and backing vocals on most tracks
The Les Claypool Frog Brigade – Purple Onion, 2002 – guitar on "Buzzards of Green Hill"
Little Milton – Welcome to Little Milton, 1999 – Gov't Mule guests on two tracks
Larry McCray – Delta Hurricane, 1993 – writer of "Soul Shine"
Phil Lesh and Friends – There and Back Again, 2002
The Pretty Reckless – Who You Selling For, 2016 – lead guitar on "Back to the River"
William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom, 2011 – guitar on "Twilight Zone"
Freeway Jam: To Beck and Back (tribute album to Jeff Beck), 2007 – "The Pump"
Hempilation: Freedom Is NORML, 1995 – with Gov't Mule on "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam"; with Drivin' N Cryin' on "Too Rolling Stoned"
Hempilation, Vol. 2: Free the Weed, 1998 – with Gov't Mule on "30 Days in the Hole"
Hound Dog Taylor: A Tribute, 1998 – with Gov't Mule on "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia"
Occupy This Album, 2012 – "River's Gonna Rise" (live)
Tommy Bolin and Friends: Great Gypsy Soul (tribute album), 2012 – also production credits