Remembering Former Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule Bassist Allen Woody

Allen Woody 1955-2000

My friend Allen Woody passed away 20 years ago today.

Woody was the Allman Brothers' bass player from 1989-1997. He, ABB guitarist Warren Haynes and drummer Matt Abts formed Gov't Mule in 1995.

Woody overdosed on heroin in a Queens hotel room in 2000.

Haynes writes at Relix:

"The day Woody died the first two phone calls I received were from friends who had obviously been through what they knew I was currently feeling. The first one was from Phil Lesh who said, 'I know what it’s like to lose someone with whom you shared a profound musical connection.' These words would resonate. The next call was from Gregg Allman who Woody and I had traveled around the world with. Gregg mostly focused on how much he loved Woody and how much he was gonna miss him but he restated the obvious - that Woody and I were like brothers. In a later conversation I mentioned to Gregg that I was having dreams where Woody was there and still alive to which he responded, almost nonchalantly, 'You’re always gonna have those.'”

I dream of the high times with Woody too. He was a fan of the magazine during the '90s when I was music editor. Woody enjoyed pot brownies that we provide for him. One time we visited my company's hemp store in Soho together. That night in 1997, Woody and Haynes' gave their last performance with the Brothers.

Gov’t Mule circa 1995: (from left) Allen Woody, Matt Abts and Warren Haynes

Haynes and Woody had grown disenchanted with the Southern jam band and decided to head out on their own. Gov't Mule was their side project, they'd been releasing albums since 1995.

In 1995, Gov't Mule contributed mightily to Hempilation: Freedom Is NORML, the benefit album I co-produced with NORML and was released by Capricorn Records.

Gov't Mule recorded a scorching version of Steppenwolf's "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam" for the album. Listen below.

Haynes also took a solo on Drivin N Cryin's lengthy cover of Robin Trower's "Too Rolling Stoned," which closed the album.

For the sequel, Hempilation 2: Free the Weed in 1998, the Mule reworked Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole." Listen below.

Haynes also produced Big Sugar's rendition of Paul McCartney's "Let Me Roll It" on the album.

The cannabis causee meant so much to Gov't Mule that were the only band to have songs on both albums

Woody is one of several musicians I became friendly with during that era - Blues Traveler's Bobby Sheehan, Sublime's Bradley Nowell and Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon - who died way too soon.

I'll let Haynes have the final words about his musical partner:

"The power trio Gov’t Mule died with Allen Woody but his ever-present spirit has been with us throughout this entire journey. Those of you who really knew Woody know that he would never have been happy resting on his laurels. The three studio records we recorded as the original trio were each different from the other and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. I often wonder which musical directions we would have explored together had he lived to make our fourth, fifth and sixth albums and beyond. That’s something we’ll never know but I do know that his presence has been part of every decision we’ve ever made and every musical path we’ve ever pursued.

"I also know that he made a deep impression on those who were fortunate enough to have known him, along with those who only knew him through his music. I’m continually hearing from fans and casual friends who tell me of meeting or spending time with Woody. They all seemed to take away the same thing—that he was, in addition to being a great musician, a genuine human being who made whomever he was talking to feel like they were the only person in the room."

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.