Guitarist Warren Haynes has revealed the rule Phil Lesh established following the demise of the Grateful Dead.

Following the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, surviving members of the Grateful Dead decided to retire the band. They still toured and performed the group’s material under various names, including a rotating assembly of musicians known as Phil Lesh and Friends.

“I got a call from Phil Lesh in the late ‘90s saying that he had put together a list of musicians, quite a long list of musicians that he wanted to play with and that I was one of those people,” Haynes recalled during an appearance on Dean Delray's Let There Be Talk podcast.

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The guitarist jumped at the opportunity and soon joined with Lesh and the rest of the band in California. At the first rehearsal, the Grateful Dead bassist hammered home his number one rule.

“The thing that he told all of us was, ‘I don’t want anybody to play or sing like Jerry,’” Haynes recalled. “‘I want everybody to bring their own personality. And I don’t want to hear any of the signature stuff that he played.’”

As Haynes explained, the Lesh was focused on the group having its own sound.

“All the musicians at that time, he was giving the same kind of parameters to,” the guitarist noted. “Because he wanted to hear other musicians interpreting that music in a different way.”

Warren Haynes Compares Experience With the Dead and Allman Brothers Band

After performing with Phil Lesh and Friends in the late ‘90s, Haynes was invited to join the Dead – an offshoot of the Grateful Dead featuring Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann – in 2003.

“When I got the invitation to join the Dead, it was a little different because I felt like, well, now I should probably pay more attention to some of the classic Jerry stuff than I had when I was working in Phil’s band, because that audience expects some of that,” Haynes admitted.

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The guitarist, who had joined with the Allman Brothers Band when they reunited in 1989, saw similarities between the two experiences.

“The guys in the Dead were giving me all the freedom in the world. They were saying, ‘You do it however you want. You interpret it your own way. You can pay as much tribute to Jerry as you want or don’t want from moment to moment,'" Haynes explained. "Which is really the same freedom that the Allman Brothers gave me when I joined the Allman Brothers in ‘89. I remember those guys saying, ‘We hired you to be you. However much Duane Allman influence you choose to showcase is your own decision. And we’re not going to ask you to play it more like Duane or less like Duane.’ And that makes you feel at ease and I think you can be more creative when you feel that kind of freedom.”

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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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