Warren Haynes stunned Allman Brothers Band fans last week when the guitarist announced that he’d be exiting the band at the end of 2014. It was a move that’s placed the future of the group in question, but according to Haynes, it’s wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. “It’s not as big a surprise within our network as some people might think,” Haynes told Rolling Stone before last Friday night’s Gregg Allman tribute concert. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time.”
Haynes has been with the band since 1989, aside from a brief departure from 1997–2000. But during that time, he’s fronted his own group Gov’t Mule, who have released 10 studio albums and toured relentlessly. Going forward, Haynes wants to focus more on Gov’t Mule, other projects and “family time.”
“I value the musical relationships and friendships that I have with everybody in this band,” he said. “I’m sure Gregg and I will continue to do stuff in the future.”
Still, for fans bummed about the uncertainty of the band, Haynes isn’t making any absolute promises that his departure will be forever. “We’ll see,” he said when asked if this was just a hiatus. “It’s a good place to kind of stop. I’m not predicting the future.”
The Allman Brothers Band will return to New York City in March for their annual Beacon Theater run, before heading to headline their own Wanee Festival, in Live Oak, Florida, April 10–12. Gov’t Mule kicks off a theater tour on February 6th at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina.