Warren Haynes is a generation-spanning guitar hero; he wasn't out of grade school when some of his best-known collaborators were at the peak of their fame, but he's earned a powerful reputation for his fiery guitar work, steeped in blues and Southern rock traditions, and has distinguished himself as a songwriter, bandleader, and solo artist as well as a gifted sideman. Haynes was born in Asheville, North Carolina on April 9, 1960, and he developed a taste for soul and R&B at an early age from older brothers who listened to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Smokey Robinson, while young Warren would spend hours singing along with their records. When he was 12, Haynes got his first guitar, and by 14 he was playing parties and sitting in with the house band at a local pizza parlor. Haynes became a serious Eric Clapton fan, and studying his work led him deeper into the classic blues sounds that influenced the British guitar hero.
In his late teens, after short stays in a number of local bands, Haynes landed a gig with a group called Ricochet, and began playing North Carolina clubs on a regular basis. One evening, Mickey Hayes, who played bass for outlaw country star David Allan Coe, caught Ricochet and was impressed with the band's lead guitarist, and when Coe's guitarist dropped out of the group shortly afterwards, Hayes recommended Haynes for the gig. Haynes played with Coe from 1980 to 1984, touring frequently and appearing on three of Coe's albums, before Haynes moved on to a band of his own, Rich Hippies, with Hayes on bass.
In 1994, Haynes broke up the Warren Haynes Band and formed Gov't Mule, a power trio featuring Allman Brothers bassist Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts; they released their self-titled debut album in 1995. In 1997, Haynes left the Allman Brothers to make Gov't Mule his first priority, but the trio was sidelined in 2000 by the death of Allen Woody, and Haynes soon rejoined the Allman Brothers Band. For a while, Haynes and Abts kept Gov't Mule going as a two-piece, playing acoustic shows in duo format and recording a pair of albums, 2001's The Deep End, Vol. 1 and 2002's The Deep End, Vol. 2, in which a variety of well-known bassists and guest artists sat in with Haynes and Abts. In 2003, Gov't Mule once again had a steady lineup as bassist Andy Hess and keyboardist Danny Louis joined the group.