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Allen Woody was a throwback to the golden past, and that is a well deserved compliment.

With his band Govít Mule, he took the art of playing rock and roll bass in a power trio, and re-introduced it to a younger audience, with several new tricks of his own.  He was obviously influenced by the best: part Jack Bruce, part Felix Pappalardi, but all with his own style.  He was the definition of retro Ė using his 1956 Gibson EB-1Violin bass and SVT amp to create thick slabs of distortion combined with melodies and blazing runs.

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Allen became quite proficient at playing mandolin and bass guitar at a very young age.   Itís interesting to note that his first bass inspiration was Paul McCartney, which obviously contributed to his melodic style beautifully showcased in Govít Mule.  He majored in music at Middle Tennessee State University, and for extra money, worked at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.

His big break came when he got the job as bassist with The Artimus Pyle band.  By 1989, after the Allman Brothers returned after a long hiatus, Allen, and guitarist Warren Haynes, were hired to play with the band. Together they added sophistication and energy to the show. 

By 1994, Allen and Warren had outgrown the Allmans.

Recruiting Matt Abts, they formed the unconquerable Govít Mule.  Their first CD, simply titled Govít Mule, was a breath of fresh air for those who were hungry for the real players of the past.  Not since the live Mountain CD entitled Twin Peaks had anyone heard such a bass tone -- huge and warm with every note clear and audible. Allen cut this record with his 1965 Gibson EB-2 bass which he rightly referred to as The big red monster. 

Allenís playing on Govít Mule was arguably his best work.

For the first time in many years, we were hearing killer bass tones so fat and rich -- a far cry from the weak sound that has become so prevalent today.  On the song entitled Mother Earth, one could easily hear the Jack Bruce influence straight out of Live Cream Volume Two. On Mule, Allen pays tribute to Tower Of Power bassist Rocco Prestia with his big 16th note groove, and on Mr. Big, he nailed Andy Fraserís vibe with such eloquence. 

Itís important to point out that Warren, Allen and Matt cut these tracks totally live in the studio, no computers or extensive overdubs, just pure soulful rock and roll and incredible musicality. 

Allen was also an avid bass collector and Gibson endorser.

Although he had Alembics, Rickenbackers and Fenders, Allenís trademark was the use of his arsenal of Gibson EB Series basses.  He had a Custom Shop mandolin/bass doubleneck, as well as one of the most extensive Gibson bass collections created.  Some of the awesome Gibson basses in Allenís collection included: A Korina Thunderbird Gibson bass; 2 EB-1 basses, a 1956 and a reissue 1970; 4 Gibson EB-2 basses; EB-Oís and EB-3ís from every generation; a 1960ís EB-6; numerous Gibson Rippers, Explorers, and Flying V Basses. 

I was fortunate to have seen Allen perform Live at Roseland in New York City and in the process learned valuable lessons about what it takes to play bass in a true power trio format. 

In todayís abundance of slappers, tappers, and lightweight players, Allen Woody still sits at the top of the pack of rock players.  He was the archetypal rock bassist who played difficult lines with ease and poise. He exhibited true character and utilized no gimmicks.  Simply put, he just kicked ass on the bass. 

In August 2000, the world was saddened by the loss of this tremendous talent.  Fortunately, we are blessed by the knowledge that Allenís spirit lives on in his music for all time.   Allen Woody is survived by his wife and daughter.   To honor this legend, the Savannah Woody Education Fund was created.  For those of you would like to make a contribution to the Fund, please send all donations to:

The Savannah Woody Education Fund

In care of Hard Head Management

Po Box 651 Village Station

New York, NY 10014

 

Thanks to Stefani Scamardo and Paul Seff for providing me with the pictures for this article.

 

AN ALLEN WOODY DISCOGRAPHY FOLLOWS:

Govít Mule

Govít Mule-Live at Roseland Ballroom

Govít Mule-Dose

Allman Brothers- Second Set

Allman Brothers-An evening With The Allman Brothers-First Set

Allman Brothers-Seven Turns

Allman Brothers-Shades Of Two Worlds

Allman Brothers-Where It All Begins.

  

Tony Senatore

May 21, 2001

 

                 Tony can be reached at http://www.senny.com/

 

 

 

 

                                  

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