Allen Woody, Gov't Mule Bassist, Dies

Former Allman Brothers Band member was 44.

Allen Woody, bassist of experimental blues-rockers Gov't Mule and one-time member of the Allman Brothers Band, died Saturday of undetermined causes at the Marriott Courtyard motel in Queens, N.Y.

An autopsy performed on the 44-year-old musician Sunday was inconclusive, according to Michelle Roche of Capricorn Records, Gov't Mule's label.

"Our prayers go out to Allen's family, friends and fans," Philip Walden Jr., Capricorn's vice president of business affairs, said. "Allen was a very special person and a very talented musician. He will be missed."

Douglas Allen Woody was born in Nashville. He was raised by a truck-driving father who instilled in him a love of country, blues and rock recordings. He began playing bass guitar when he was 14 and also learned to play mandolin and guitar.

Though Woody first emulated the bass playing of the Beatles' Paul McCartney, he soon became a devotee of the Allman Brothers' brand of Southern rock.

Woody was a music major at Middle Tennessee State University. To earn money, he worked at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, where he was exposed to many local musicians. His tenure at the guitar shop influenced Woody's later fondness for customized instruments such as a double-necked guitar/mandolin.

In the mid-'80s, Woody first became nationally known as the bassist in the Artimus Pyle Band, led by Lynyrd Skynyrd's former drummer. The gig led to Woody joining the Allman Brothers Band as a bassist when that veteran group returned from a lengthy hiatus in 1989. Woody remained with the band for eight productive years and played on such albums as Seven Turns (1990), featuring "Good Clean Fun."

Woody bonded with fellow Allman member Warren Haynes, who joined the group around the same time on guitar. In 1994, the pair, while remaining on tour with the Allman Brothers Band, formed the side-band Gov't Mule, with drummer Matt Abts. Three years later, the side project became Woody and Haynes' sole focus.

Gov't Mule's eponymous 1995 debut featured cuts such as "Mule" and "Trane." After the next year's Live at Roseland Ballroom, the band returned with Dose (1998), including "Thorazine Shuffle," the traditional "John the Revelator," and a cover of the Beatles' "She Said She Said." Gov't Mule performed at the H.O.R.D.E. Festival and issued Live ... With a Little Help From Our Friends, featuring guests such as Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell and Black Crowes' Marc Ford.

Earlier this year, the band issued Life Before Insanity (RealAudio excerpt of title track) and toured the eastern United States. They also performed at March's South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas. The album's concept was based on a man's descent into madness.

Woody, known for his adeptness at blues jams as well as for fast bass runs, was scheduled to continue Gov't Mule's tour on Sept. 2.

A funeral will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hermitage Memorial Gardens in Hermitage, Tenn.

Woody is survived by his wife, Jenny, his 3-year-old daughter, Savannah, and his father, Douglas Allen Woody Sr. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Savannah Woody Educational Fund c/o Hard Head Management, P.O. Box 651 Village Station, New York, NY 10014.