The Allman Brothers Band have suffered one of the more devastating blows of their 45-year career: longtime singer-guitarist Warren Haynes and slide guitarist Derek Trucks announced tonight that they will depart the band at the end of the year. "For 25 years and 15 years respectively, we've had the honor and pleasure of playing, living, learning, and traveling with the Allman Brothers Band, one of the truly legendary rock and roll bands," the two musicians wrote in a joint statement. "We will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the experience, and for the love, enthusiasm, and support of the incredible fans. We are both preparing to dig even deeper into our various creative and musical endeavors and, as a result, 2014 will be our final year as part of the band."
The news comes as a complete surprise. Last month, Gregg Allman spoke to Rolling Stone with enthusiasm about the future of the band, both in the studio and on stage. "Spontaneous things still happen," he said. "Going through the motions would be a real bore. I know a band that plays the same songs in the same order, they even say the same shit at the same time every night. But, no, we're all still real into it."
Haynes was recruited by former guitarist Dickey Betts to join the band in 1989, becoming essentially the band's frontman. He quit in 1997 to focus on his other band, Gov't Mule, but returned in 2000 – a year after Trucks, the nephew of drummer Butch Trucks, joined. The duo reinjected energy and soul into the Allmans at countless marathon gigs. "I think the Allman Brothers individually and collectively have found ourselves in a place where we just want to shake it up and not do what is expected of us," Haynes said in 2012. "[We have] a situation where we can play what we want and people not only accept it but also actually dig it. It's kind of amazing."
Trucks formed Tedeschi Trucks Band with wife Susan Tedeschi in 2010, an ambitious project with a horn section and keyboards. Rolling Stone called 2011's Revelator a "masterpiece," and it won a Grammy. "I feel that my solo project and the Tedeschi Trucks Band is where my future and creative energy lies," Trucks said in his own statement. "The Tedeschi Trucks Band tour schedule keeps growing, and I feel the time has finally come to focus on a single project, which will allow me to spend that rare time off the road with my family and children. It's a difficult decision to make, and I don't make it lightly.”
But the decision to leave the band to focus on individual projects is surprising because the Alllman Brothers Band schedule has been especially light in recent years. "These last few years, we do the Beacon and then we do one month on the road in the summertime and that's about it," Gregg Allman told Rolling Stone less than three weeks ago. "And then everybody goes off to their own respective solo bands. It's getting more seldom that we get together, you know? It makes you really look forward to it.”
More information may surface by Friday, when Gregg Allman will be honored with a tribute concert Friday at Atlanta's Fox Theatre – which Haynes and Trucks are set to play. The Allmans are also set to kick off their annual run at New York's Beacon Theatre on March 7th.
Read full statements from Haynes and Trucks on the next page.
Warren Haynes' Full Statement
I joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1989, at age 28, for a reunion tour with no promise or expectations of it going any further. Based on the success of the tour and the uncanny chemistry between the original members and the new members, we decided to continue and see where it all led. Now, here we are, 25 years later, and it has been an amazing experience. I've always said that if I were to join a band that I grew up listening to the ABB would be at the top of that list. The original version of the band was a huge influence on me and I'm sure that the countless hours I spent listening to and studying that music helped shape me as a musician. As proud as I am of being a member of such a legendary band, I'm even more proud of the music that we've made together and of being a part of carrying their original vision into the future.
As someone who's been fortunate enough to juggle a lot of musical projects and opportunities I look forward to maintaining a vigorous schedule which will include many more years of touring and recording with Gov't Mule in addition to my solo projects and to enjoying more family time as well. Being part of the ABB has opened a lot of doors for me and that's something I don't take for granted nor do I take for granted the friendship and musical relationships I have with each of the members. The 45th Anniversary of the ABB is a milestone amidst too many highlights to count and I'm looking forward to an amazing year creating music that only the Allman Brothers Band can create.
Derek Trucks' Full Statement
I got the call to join the Allman Brothers while on tour with my own band at the age of 19. It was out of the blue and felt surreal. I leapt at the chance. This was the music that I had cut my teeth on and it was the distinctive sound of Duane's guitar that inspired me to pick up the instrument in the first place.
When I started with ABB I didn't know how long it would last, only that I would let the music lead me and teach me. Amazingly that led me past the band's 40th anniversary, to the band's 45th, and now my 15th year as a member of this incredible band. Five years ago the 45th seemed like a lofty goal but I thought if we could make it to that milestone it would be a logical time to move on.
While I've shared many magical moments on stage with the Allman Brothers Band in the last decade plus, I feel that my solo project and the Tedeschi Trucks Band is where my future and creative energy lies. The Tedeschi Trucks Band tour schedule keeps growing, and I feel the time has finally come to focus on a single project, which will allow me to spend that rare time off the road with my family and children. It's a difficult decision to make, and I don't make it lightly.
I'm proud to have made a small contribution to the masterful music they have created over the past forty years, and will continue to create. Now seems like a good time to go out on a high note with a great 45th anniversary in 2014, and the mutual respect and friendship of the other 6 members of ABB.