In Memoriam | Warren Haynes Guitar Tech Brian Farmer

We’re sad to report that Warren Haynes longtime guitar tech, Brian Farmer, has passed away. Farmer was a ubiquitous presence at Warren’s performances from Gov’t Mule to Phil Lesh & 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 in 2000.

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 Carter Cash.

“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 and others.

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 Peter Shapiro.

“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 Band

“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