We're sad to report that Warren Haynes longtime guitar tech, Brian
away. Farmer was a ubiquitous presence at Warren's performances from Gov't Mule to Phil
& Friends to The Dead to The Allman Brothers Band over the years.
[Photo by Bert de Jong]
Gov't Mule announced
the news with the following note, "We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of
longtime crew member Brian Farmer. We will have a full statement shortly #ThankYouFarmer."
A Facebook posting from the band adds that Farmer died yesterday at his home near
Nashville. Sadly, today is also the anniversary of original Gov't Mule Allen Woody's death
Watch Farmer tell road stories about life on the road with Warren:
Our thoughts and prayers are with Farmer's friends and family.
Alan Paul, author of One Way Out: An Inside History Of The Allman Brothers Band has
penned a tribute to Farmer that was posted on Gov't Mule's website. Read Alan's stirring tribute and then look at
our list of tributes to Farmer that have been coming from all sides of the music world.
The entire Gov’t Mule family is deeply saddened by the passing of longtime crew member
Brian Farmer this past Sunday August 24, at his home near Nashville. Farmer died
peacefully in his sleep. He was 53.
"He was a close friend, a devoted worker, and a lover of life,” says Warren Haynes. “We
traveled around the world together and shared many experiences-mostly while laughing. He
will be missed by a huge circle of friends and family."
Farmer began working for Gov’t Mule in 1998, brought to the band by his old friend,
bassist Allen Woody, who died almost exactly 14 years earlier. Prior to joining the Mule
crew, Farmer worked for Johnny Cash for eight years before the Man in Black retired from
touring. Farmer was exceedingly proud of his close relationship with Johnny and June
“When Johnny retired, I ran into Allen and said, ‘You need to hire me, you need to hire
me,’ Farmer told Hittin the Note magazine.
Months later, Gov’t Mule needed a guitar tech and Woody called his old friend. In the
subsequent years, Farmer became an indispensable part of the operation, teching Warren
Haynes’ guitars and also serving as the band’s equipment manager and stage manager.
Farmer has been by Haynes’ side for every gig the guitarist has played since 1998 – with
Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers Band, the Warren Haynes Band, the Dead, Phil and Friends
Farmer and Haynes developed an extremely close working relationship.
“We have looks that we give each other,” Farmer told Hittin the Note. “An eyebrow, a flick
of the wrist… a shrug of his shoulders …I've learned to listen for things. I can tell
sometimes when he's close to breaking a string. With the Mule, I sometimes come out to
adjust his amplifier before during and after songs.”
"He was one of a kind,” says Haynes. “He lived and breathed his job. He knew a lot more
about guitars and gear than I did so I could trust him to keep things working in a
technical manner so I could concentrate on the music.”
Says Allman Brothers Band manager Bert Holman, ”Brian was a very dedicated, very loyal,
very skilled technician. He was from the old school and would help anybody and everybody
do their job. If something of Derek or Gregg’s blew up, he’d be the first guy to grab a
flashlight or tool and run across the stage because he was a team player. His standard
line to any request was, ‘Just tell me what you need.’ Brian always had your back. He was
kind to the fans and tried to give them as much time as he could without taking his eyes
off the ball, which he never, ever did.”
“He was extraordinarily dedicated to his craft, to the world of guitars and amps, to
Warren and all his projects – and to the music itself,” says Alan Paul, author of One Way
Out: An inside History of the Allman Brothers Band.
“Guys like Brian keep the wheels turning and the gears greased and the guitars in tune.
The shows don’t happen without them – and no one did any of this better, with more
dedication, heart and soul than Farmer. His passing is a tremendous loss on many levels.”
Farmer’s death was greeted with shock and grief across the internet by fans and musicians
alike. It is hard to imagine many other rock and roll road crew members who were more
respected and beloved. Among those expressing their sorrow and respect on Twitter were
Phil Lesh - "Fare thee well, Farmer. I love you more than can words can tell” and Derek
Trucks, who summed up the thoughts of many when he wrote:
“People like Brian Farmer are the backbone of all live music. Without the hard work of
folks like Farmer we'd be lost.”
He's survived by us all: His family, all of the musicians whose lives (and guitars) he
touched, the road crews he traveled the country and worked tirelessly with and everyone
else whose lives who were made better by his presence.
- Alan Paul
We'll compile some tweets and thoughts about Farmer below:
"I think all fans of Warren Haynes will miss the sight of Brian Farmer roaming the wings
of the stage, handling and tuning Warren's guitars so when Warren had them in his hands
the sounds that came out of them was always pitch-perfect. His smile and vibe were
infectious and will be remembered with a smile forever." - Relix publisher and impresario
"This is sad news, such sad news. Last time I saw Farmer I was by chance seated next to
him on an airplane to the all good music festival a couple years ago. They were all on a
red eye from Switzerland to the fest. That didn't stop him from dropping classic Farmer
tales from the road. Later at the festival he took one look at the strat I was going to
play, my airplane 'don't care of you destroy it' guitar, and still on zero sleep brought
me to his famous guitar boat and handed me a gorgeous 60's Gibson hollow body to play for
our set. Can't tell you happy that made me. At other points throughout the years when tlg
shared the stage with Govt Mule, nothing gave me more pride than seeing my Gibson in
Farmers boat, it brings a smile to my face thinking of that guitar getting a quick wipe
down and coming out to the stage shiny as new and to have Farmer suit you up on the big
stage is as rock and roll as it gets. I'll miss you brother." - Tea Leaf Green guitarist Josh Clark
"The Allman Brothers Band family has just learned of the untimely death of devoted guitar
technician Brian Farmer. Brian joined our family in 2001 with returning musician Warren
Haynes for whom he worked with on Gov't Mule for a number of years. Brian was jovial,
sardonic man whose talent with musical instruments and the related equipment was
extraordinary. His devotion to his profession and the musicians around him was
unparalleled. He was a devoted father and family man. He was a fan favorite. He will be
sorely missed by all who knew him as he has left us all too soon." - The Allman Brothers
"Woke this AM to the very sad news that our dear friend Brian Farmer - long time guitar
tech for Warren Haynes passed away yesterday at his home near Nashville. Farmer was one of
a kind in the truest sense of the phrase. I always loved getting to festivals and going up
on stage and yelling FARMER!!!!! He would always make me kiss him on the cheek. He was a
true legend in the business and he had a heart of gold. He will be missed! RIP - and dont
fuck with the Farmer!!" - Jay Blakesberg, who also shared
nine photos of Farmer
"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dear friend, Brian Farmer. Long time
guitar tech and friend to Warren Haynes, Brian was extremely devoted to his work and has
followed and supported Warren through the various bands he’s played with over the decades
including the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, the Dead and Phil Lesh & Friends.
Brian will be missed by many here at PRS Guitars and his friends and colleagues in the
music industry. He personally touched the lives of so many folks he worked with. Our
deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and all of his industry peers that had
the good fortune and pleasure of knowing and working with Brian." - PRS Guitars
"big quake hit the bay yesterday… sending healing thoughts to those hardest hit, but what
has me REALLY shook this AM is the news that my friend brian farmer, warren haynes' guitar
tech for the past 20 years (!!!) has passed away. i'm really sad for brian's family,
Warren Haynes & all the Government Mule guys & for the loss of a sweet, kind human being
who was always welcoming & a great hang… rest easy my friend.
#thankyoufarmer" - Mark Karan