5 years ago yesterday Allen Woody died.
Allen Woody was the only rock star I can really say I knew, and for a music geek like me, that puts him in a special place. I mean, I know other star quality musicians but Woody and I were real acquaintances, I'd like to say friend but I don't think that's honest.
It started when he was first hired for the Allmans back in 89/90. I was working at a Turtle's Record Store in Donelson, near Woody's home. He and his dad came into the store. I remember the first time I tried to help Allen, he asked for Mahavishnu Orchestra and I had no clue what he was talking about.
Fast forward to 96 when I became a taper. I was a whore for Gov't Mule. I drove from Maryland to New Orleans to Southern Illinois to Columbus, OH to see this band play and it was during this period that I got to know the entire organization. At this time they were very much a cult band, drawing a few hundred on a good night, and I was deep in the cult. As a taper I would get to shows hours early, if I was lucky I'd get there during sound check. I would set my gear up go get some food and come back for the show.
Two places I regularly went to see the band were Atlanta and the Louisville/Lexington trip the made. They always new lots of folks in Atlanta but in Lexington and Louisville there were just eager fans. It was in Lexington that I first ate dinner with the band, it was in Louisville that I first had some drinks with Allen after a show. Then Woody would start to visit me at the record store whenever he came to town.
When I first started listening to the Mule it was all about Warren but the longer I was there and the more I realized that it was Woody that was the cornerstone. He had the attitude, the humor and a great deal of the fragility that made this band interesting.
Yesterday I listened to the entire Live...With a Little Help from My Friends and Gov't Mule. On Gov't Mule in particular I realized how much he added to what I wanted and needed from this band. Periodically (and yesterday was one of those days) I realize how much I miss him.
It hurt more than I imagined when Woody died. I mean we'd never been to each other's houses, we'd only spent a few hours (in the grand scheme) together but he made an impact, a big impact.
I miss Woody, I miss Woody's music.
I've stuck with the band through the transition and they are still a really good band but I'm just not in the same place anymore. They are not the same, they are not what I want to listen to.
If you ever liked Cream or Jefferson Airplane or Hendrix (live) you should really check out Live...With a Little Help from My Friends and Gov't Mule.