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RIP Brian Farmer, another good man gone too soon.

This photo by Michael Weintrob says it all. Farmer working so Warren could do his thing without ever thinking twice about anything gear related.

 

Re-posting this today, marking two years since Farmer’s death. I am very proud that I own his Strat. Miss this guy very much. 

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Warren Haynes’ longtime and much beloved guitar tech Brian Farmer died Sunday August 24, at his home near Nashville.  Farmer died peacefully in his sleep. He was 53.

“He was a close friend, a devoted worker, and a lover of life,” says Haynes. “We traveled around the world together and shared many experiences-mostly while laughing. He will be missed by a huge circle of friends and family.”

Brian Farmer was extraordinarily dedicated to his craft, to the world of guitars and amps, to Warren and all his projects – and to the music itself. People like Brian keep the wheels turning and the gears greased and the guitars in tune. The shows don’t happen without them – and no one did any of this better, with more dedication, heart and soul than Farmer.

Farmer began working for Gov’t Mule in 1998, brought to the band by his old friend, bassist Allen Woody, who died almost exactly 14 years earlier. Prior to joining the Mule crew, Farmer worked for Johnny Cash for eight years before the Man in Black retired from touring. Farmer was exceedingly proud of his close relationship with Johnny and June Carter Cash.

“When Johnny retired, I ran into Allen and said, ‘You need to hire me, you need to hire me,’ Farmer told Hittin the Note magazine.

Months later, Gov’t Mule needed a guitar tech and Woody called his old friend. In the subsequent years, Farmer became an indispensable part of the operation, teching Warren Haynes’ guitars and also serving as the band’s equipment manager and stage manager.

Farmer has been by Haynes’ side for every gig the busy guitarist has played since 1998 – with Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers Band, the Warren Haynes Band, the Dead, Phil and Friends and others.

Farmer and Haynes developed an extremely close working relationship.

“We have looks that we give each other,” Farmer told Hittin the Note. “An eyebrow, a flick of the wrist… a shrug of his shoulders …I’ve learned to listen for things. I can tell sometimes when he’s close to breaking a string. With the Mule, I sometimes come out to adjust his amplifier before during and after songs.”

“He was one of a kind,” says Haynes. “He lived and breathed his job. He knew a lot more about guitars and gear than I did so I could trust him to keep things working in a technical manner so I could concentrate on the music.”

Farmer at Wake Up With Warren, Peach Fest 2014 – Sunday, August 17. Photo by Derek McCabe.

Says Allman Brothers Band manager Bert Holman, ”Brian was a very dedicated, very loyal, very skilled technician. He was from the old school and would help anybody and everybody do their job. If something of Derek or Gregg’s blew up, he’d be the first guy to grab a flashlight or tool and run across the stage because he was a team player. His standard line to any request was, ‘Just tell me what you need.’ Brian always had your back. He was kind to the fans and tried to give them as much time as he could without taking his eyes off the ball, which he never, ever did.”

Farmer also had a very close relationship with the Gibson Custom Shop, working with them on all of Haynes’ custom guitars.

“Brian was more than a visitor to Gibson Custom,” says Rick Gembar, Gibson Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Custom Division.  “We were blessed to get to know him over the years as he came and went on behalf of Warren.  During those years, he built relationships with everyone, from the front desk to the craftspeople, to me personally.  He was a friend, well respected as a technician and genuinely admired for his kindness as much as for his tireless work ethic and attention to detail.  Seeing him come through the door was always a welcome sight to the people here.

On behalf of everyone here at Gibson Custom, I send our deepest condolences to his family, Warren, Brian’s friends and all others that he touched during his time.”

Farmer’s death was greeted with shock and grief across the internet by fans and musicians alike. It is hard to imagine many other rock and roll road crew members who were more respected and beloved. Among those expressing their sorrow and respect on Twitter were Phil Lesh – “Fare thee well, Farmer – I love you more than can words can tell” and Derek Trucks.

The latter summed things up beautifully in a series of #ThankYouFarmer tweets: “People like Brian Farmer are the backbone of all live music. Without the hard work of folks like Farmer we’d be lost.”


31 replies
  1. Dan Kurtz
    Dan Kurtz says:

    That was a beautiful tribute. I only knew Farmer used to work for Johnny Cash. You helped fill in some gaps for me. What I remember was Brian had a tremendous sense of humor and was an extraordinary storyteller himself. It is fitting that so many people, from Phil Lesh to Devon Allman and hundreds of fans have been flooding social media with condolences. The road goes on forever Farmer.

    Reply
    • AlanPaul
      AlanPaul says:

      Thanks Dan. I was so sad yesterday and writing this was terrific therapy. I hope it helps spread appreciation and understanding of Farmer around… posting later today on guitarworld.com.

      Reply
  2. Michael
    Michael says:

    Nicely done Alan. Brian was a vital part of the Warren world for so many years it is going to be a tough one. I was so sad all day yesterday and still am. Will be front row center for the next scheduled Mule show and expect a very emotional evening for all.

    Reply
  3. Brian Gill
    Brian Gill says:

    Alan -Thanks for the homage. Brian was a friend of the fans pre and post shows. I remember after one, fans asking Framer what he had (picks etc) and Brian saying “bad knees” and a fan not missing a beat replied “don’t worry, it’s just a stage you’re going through”. I thoroughly believed the crowd came early and stayed later after ABB and Mule shows to be part of the witty exchanges and feel closer to the music. The one degree of separation will be missed.

    Reply
  4. Richard Waysdorf
    Richard Waysdorf says:

    Beautifully put Alan. You really captured an essense of someone who became a cherished friend to everyone he met. He was part of the fun that surrounded every show, you’d look forward to when the circus came to town just to see him. He will really be missed.

    Reply
  5. Lisa Valliere
    Lisa Valliere says:

    Thank you for writing this. You get it. He wasn’t just a tech for some band – he was Farmer. I think I’ve heard “Farmer” more often that I’ve heard “Warren” called out at shows. I haven’t cried this much for the loss of anyone for a long time. I can’t imagine a show without seeing him. He was such a giving man, worked his ass off but always took time for a peace wave and a humble smile. I don’t think he knew his value but I think he knew he was loved. So loved.

    Reply
  6. Michael Holmes
    Michael Holmes says:

    I was lucky enough to be Farmers right-hand man twice while working at The Madison Theatre, in Newport, Ky. He was very gracious and friendly to me as I assisted him in setting up Warren’s rig and placing his guitars. It was a great experience that I will never forget. Thank you Farmer.

    Reply
  7. Mark
    Mark says:

    I met Brian at the second night of Mule in London this year. It had been a fruitful year for me in watching the legends, ABB at the Beacon in March, Mule in Melbourne, Australia in April then Mule twice again, home in London. I spoke to Brian in the bar area as we watched the encore, both of us loving it. I told him that I’d been lucky enough to see him prepare the stages four times this year, and he just stated “Well, I hope we didn’t let you down at all” with a smile. What a humble and sweet thing to say. Lovely man.

    Reply
  8. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    Thank you, Alan, for this tribute. It was good for both smiles and tears. I met Farmer a few times over the years and every single time we talked, he spoke to me as if he were talking to an old friend he hasn’t seen for a while. I know he met dozens of people every night, so that wasn’t the case, but it was just his warm, friendly nature coming through. I will miss him so much at future shows.

    Reply
  9. AlanPaul
    AlanPaul says:

    Thank you everyone for the comments.

    It was my pleasure to do this. Farmer meant a lot to me and it is inconceivable that I won’t ever speak to him again.

    I think all of your responses paint a picture of how important he was to how many people.

    Reply
  10. Steve Shinall
    Steve Shinall says:

    I had the good fortune of playing drums with Lee Farmer, Brian’s brother and an excellent pianist in his own right…. the best I’ve ever performed with. When Lee passed away, Brian came in while Lee’s funeral arrangements were being made and helped us finish up a couple of tracks on the last CD that Lee and our band had recorded. Even during the immediate grieving of his brother’s death, Brian found time to lend a hand and do so graciously and with kindness. It brings some comfort knowing they will be reunited. Looking forward to catching up with them, further on down the road.

    Reply
  11. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    Very well done Alan! Sincere and truthful. People always overlook the folks behind the amps that are just as responsible for achieving that stellar show as the musicians themselves. Farmer was truly at the top of that game and his presence will be missed along with his hard work and dedication. He will be missed. And the road goes on forever…

    Reply
  12. Ed Wagner
    Ed Wagner says:

    Nice story, Alan. I had the pleasure of being a teenager with Brian. We spent three years together in Ms Mayo’s Drama Class at his old High School, Cheatham County Central High. (Class of 1979) Never had a harsh word for anyone; always fun to be around; and an amazing talent on the stage and behind the scenes. He made us all laugh and now, after all these years, we weep for him. While I haven’t seen him since we graduated; I picked back up on his comings and goings on Facebook. (Farmer’s Freaks). Everything you said about him doesn’t surprise me at all. It seems that he never changed; staying real and keeping those traits that made people love him. The world is a sadder place without Frog in it.

    Reply
  13. Hisham bakir
    Hisham bakir says:

    Mr. Farmer, of all the people i loved over the years, and all the ones that passed, i only cried for you. I met you for the first time last year in Jamaica and saw you again in Amsterdam a few months ago, and you were just as gentle the second time as you were the first. You will be missed my friend. You were an amazing person and for that you will be remembered. RIP Mr. Farmer, for yo are a giant among men.

    Reply
  14. Ian Felchlin
    Ian Felchlin says:

    I had the privilege of assisting Farmer once, when my pal and I were ‘local roadies’ at a Mule show. When he asked for a volunteer to help him with the guitar boats, my hand was the quickest. He was a kind, funny, and incredibly knowledgable guy. He called me ‘Bambi II’ for a couple hours that day – I don’t even know why. Farmer was a staple at Mule and Allman shows, and an inspiration when it comes to the work of putting on a show. He will truly be missed.

    Reply
  15. trent hutcheson
    trent hutcheson says:

    Brian Farmer was a great guy and guitar lovin, playin tech man. He always brought me in and made me feel welcome on lots of shows over the years. Wish I could have spent more time and got to know him even better. Brother Brodie and me will miss him. Thanks BF

    Reply
  16. Conrad Hanafee
    Conrad Hanafee says:

    Had met Woody a few times threw John ..rip, mate of Warren’s. Farmer must a been a great friend/tech/asset to ride w/ these guys. Glad AW hooked him up! Wish I had known him. Loving what he did best, rip Farmer

    Reply
  17. Stuart Houk
    Stuart Houk says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to the unsung heroes of Rock.It must be especially tough w/ The Allman’s so close to roads end. I didn’t know Farmer, but the few times I did speak w/ him he was always kind. I am 64, and have seen the Allman’s, Mule, and Dead, many, many times. I used to love watching him on stage. A master of his craft, just like Warren and Derek.
    As I write this I am tearing up, because I know that I will never see my favorite band play live ever again.What I would give, or do, to be @ The Beacon.
    Music is the wheel that moves us, and Brian was a spoke in that wheel. The musicians get all the credit, but the guys behind the scene are heroes too. Thank you Alan for this beautifully written tribute. You hit the note !

    Reply
  18. sue bolandrina
    sue bolandrina says:

    Saw him at the peach…for the last time on the 17th. Knew that show was special! My heart broke for his family and friends when I heard the news. He will always hold a special place in their hearts.

    Reply
  19. Maria McCullough
    Maria McCullough says:

    Beautiful tribute. We met Brian Farmer on 10/11/11 at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Pittsburgh when we went to see the Warren Haynes Band. We had the perfect luck to have front row-center seats for this fantastic show. As Brian was setting up Warren’s guitars, I was snapping pics of him and the stage. He said, “Hey, you want a picture of you guys?” I handed him my camera and he took a couple shots of my boyfriend and I sitting front and center. We were thrilled to say the least. What a gracious man. Then after the show, he handed me both set lists that Warren used along with a guitar pic of Warren’s. This Pittsburgh girl will never, ever forget his genuine kindness. My sincere condolences to Brian’s family, Warren and his family. And to you Alan.

    Reply
  20. earl martin
    earl martin says:

    met Farmer numerous times over the years and he was so kind to us..always took time to chat and take pictures.I talked to him in Raleigh several years back and he said he was doing roadie stories for the Jamaica shows.I told him he should call it Farmers Almanac..He thought it was a good idea.and we laughed and joked around,I have a picture of He and I from that night on my wall and will cherish his memory always.We were blessed to have known him.

    Reply

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