The first time I saw Marcus King play about a year and a half ago at the Royal American, I remember being convinced he was related to Warren Haynes.
The then-17-year-old Greenville native resembled him in a way that surpassed mimicry: his Hendrix-style guitar riffs and raspy Southern twang, the way he commanded his band with authority and kept calm and steady when he unleashed his rapid-fire solos. He even had the same long, wavy hair Haynes did in his earlier years.
Haynes, the legendary guitarist who played with The Allman Brothers Band and now leads Gov’t Mule, lives in Asheville, not too far from King’s hometown of Greenville. So, a kinship didn’t seem entirely far-fetched.
A quick Google search during the show turned up nothing of the sort, and my theory was dead. Genetics had nothing to do with the resemblance.
But, as it turns out, there was a small common thread that would eventually link King’s band to the Southern rock legend, one that may have changed the course of the teen’s budding music career.
In late 2014, King had been playing with some musicians in Asheville that also had collaborated with Haynes over the years.
“And the whole time they were all saying, ‘Man, we have got to get your stuff to Warren, he’d really dig it,’” King said.
Those friends eventually did get his music to Haynes and his wife, Stefanie Scamardo, a Sirius XM DJ and the president of Evil Teen Records. The label’s roster includes Haynes’ solo work, Gov’t Mule, Kevn Kinney (of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’) and The Lee Boys.
“Warren and Stephanie really took a liking to (the Marcus King Band) ... and it all just started to happen from there,” King said.
The band played Haynes’ annual Christmas Jam festival last year during the daytime concert series called Jam By Day, where Haynes’ manager caught the set. Then, in the spring, he booked the band to open for Gov’t Mule’s show in Greenville. That was the first time Haynes had ever seen them play live.
“We were really nervous to be playing while Warren was hanging out on the side of the stage,” King said. “We just put everything we had into it.”
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