Jimmy Herring

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Jimmy Herring
Herring performing with The Dead at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, June 17, 2003
Background information
Born (1962-01-22) January 22, 1962 (age 56)
Fayetteville, North Carolina United States
GenresRock, Jazz fusion, Instrumental rock
Years active1987–present
LabelsAbstract Logix, Interscope, Widespread Records, Columbia, House of Blues
Associated actsAquarium Rescue Unit
Jazz Is Dead
The Allman Brothers Band
Phil Lesh and Friends
The Other Ones
The Dead
Justice League
Widespread Panic
Trigger Hippy
Project Z
The Ringers

Jimmy Herring (born January 22, 1962) is an American guitarist who is the lead guitarist in the band Widespread Panic. Herring is a founding member of Aquarium Rescue Unit and Jazz Is Dead. He has also played with The Allman Brothers Band, Project Z, Derek Trucks Band, and has enjoyed a long and successful tenure with Phil Lesh and Friends as well as The Dead.

Musical career[edit]

Jimmy Herring was born on January 22, 1962, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of a high school English teacher, and a North Carolina Superior Court judge. The youngest of three brothers, Herring attended Terry Sanford Senior High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Although he played saxophone in the high school band, he quickly became known for his prodigious talent on guitar, which he had begun playing at age 13.[1] Herring had a Telecaster guitar with a Stratocaster neck, in the same style as one of his biggest influences at the time, Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs. After high school he formed the band Paradox, a cover band that played mostly jazz fusion instrumentals, including songs by the Dixie Dregs, Al Di Meola and Chuck Mangione, and included a 3-piece horn section, composed of Wayne Rigsby and Charles Humphries on trumpets, plus Jimmy on sax (for tunes such as "Birdland"), and for which Herring did the arrangements. After graduating high school, in 1980, Herring attended a summer session at the Berklee College of Music.[1] In addition, Herring is a graduate of The Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) in Hollywood, California. He has influenced many guitarists on the American jam band scene, known for his fluent improvisational talent and ability to play long and complex solos.

Herring was the original lead guitarist of the seminal jam band group Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Formed in Atlanta in 1989, its alumni include Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge and future Leftover Salmon drummer Jeff Sipe.

Subsequently, invited to participate on the H.O.R.D.E. tour with Aquarium Rescue Unit in 1992 and 1993, Herring was offered the lead guitar spot in The Allman Brothers Band after Dickey Betts was arrested after a show in Saratoga Springs, New York on July 30, 1993. Herring filled the open slot for one night but declined to take the position as a full-time gig.

Aquarium Rescue Unit would lose Bruce Hampton in 1994, who cited time pressures as his reason for leaving the band. Herring and other members would continue to tour as late as early 1997 until drummer Jeff Sipe departed for Leftover Salmon.

1998 and 1999 found Herring, with bassist Alphonso Johnson, Dixie Dregs (and former Widespread Panic) keyboardist T Lavitz and jazz drummer Billy Cobham touring as Jazz Is Dead. Jazz Is Dead released three albums; the material was fusion jazz-rock, largely instrumental-only cover interpretations of classic Grateful Dead songs. In addition, Herring guested on an album by The Derek Trucks Band, Out of the Madness.

The Allman Brothers Band (by then including ex-ARU member Oteil Burbridge on bass) again showed interest in 2000 and Herring played from May to October 2000 on their summer tour, before being offered the guitar spot in a new project put together by Phil Lesh of the Grateful DeadPhil Lesh and Friends. Until Herring joined the band, the lineup had fluctuated with a rotating cast of performers. However, after joining, the bandmates solidified into a lineup which remained largely constant for the next two years, from September 2000 to September 2002.

In 2002, Herring joined The Other Ones, a band which included four former members of the Grateful Dead — Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. Herring continued to play with the group, now renamed The Dead, in 2003 and 2004.[2]

In 2005, he also toured with the jazz, funk, and occasionally bluegrass-oriented band The Codetalkers, which featured Herring on guitar with his previous bandmate Col. Bruce Hampton on vocals, harmonica, and guitar. This band also allowed Herring to expand a musical friendship with Codetalkers' front man Bobby Lee Rodgers, with whom Herring formed a new band in the spring of 2006 (tentatively dubbed Herring, Rodgers, and Sipe). 2005 also marked the release of the Lincoln Memorial disc from Project Z, of which Jimmy is a founding member. In January 2005, Herring appeared on the Jam Cruise 3 stage with several acts, including Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.

Herring left Phil Lesh and Friends in November, 2005. On August 3, 2006, Widespread Panic announced Herring would be taking over the lead guitar spot in the band after the departure of George McConnell. Also in 2006, Herring and an almost complete original lineup of Aquarium Rescue Unit reunited as Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit featuring Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Col. Bruce Hampton and Jeff Sipe with Bobby Lee Rodgers sitting in.

In 2008, Herring released Lifeboat, his first official solo album, on Abstract Logix. The material consists primarily of instrumental jazz-rock fusion, and features a rotating lineup of long-time Herring collaborators, including Oteil and brother Kofi Burbridge, Jeff Sipe, alto and soprano saxophonist Greg Osby, and others, including two songs featuring Derek Trucks. The album was met with generally positive reviews.

On February 7, 2009, Herring, along with Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes), guitarist Audley Freed (Jakob Dylan, ex-Crowes, Blue Floyd) and bassist-singer Nick Govrik, made their live debut of Trigger Hippy at the Cox Capitol Theater in Macon, Georgia.

On August 21, 2012, Jimmy Herring released Subject to Change without Notice, his second solo album on Abstract Logix. The album received rave reviews and was produced by John Keane who is well known for producing albums for Widespread Panic, R.E.M, The Indigo Girls among others. Jimmy Herring was also on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine the very same year. He toured the album extensively in the United States during the Fall of 2012 with Jeff Sipe, Neal Fountain and Matt Slocum.

In 2013, Jimmy Herring, Wayne Krantz, Michael Landau, Etienne Mbappe and Keith Carlock started a band called The Ringers. The idea of this five musicians to form this unique band came from Abstract Logix Founder and Producer Souvik Dutta. They went to perform five concerts in USA to a wonderful response.

The Ringers returned in 2014 performing fourteen concerts in January and February, this time with drummer Gary Novak.

On May 26, 2018, Jimmy Herring played guitar with The Dave Matthews Band in Atlanta, Georgia. He joined the band on stage for the songs Satellite and #41 where he again displayed his smooth playing style and warmth on the guitar.


Herring's primary guitar is a modified American Standard Fender Stratocaster. It is equipped with two Lollar Imperial humbuckers. The fingerboard radius has been flattened out to 20" and has Dunlop 6000 fret wire, which are the tallest and widest guitar frets manufactured today.

Herring also uses a 1969 Stratocaster as well as several other PRS guitars (including a hollowbody) and has played a 1970 Gibson SG given as a gift from Derek Trucks. Although he has long used effects sparingly, his 2005 Codetalkers rig saw him sport an Ernie Ball volume pedal and an H&K Tube Factor. He has expanded his effects pedals when playing Dead related music, and sported a TC Electronic M-One, and a Mutron with both The Dead and Phil Lesh and Friends. He splits the signal off at the speaker output of his amp and uses that signal to drive a separate solid state amp just for reverb. The reverb level is controlled with a volume pedal. As of early 2014, the reverb unit is an Eventide Space Reverb. Amps are chosen for specific venues and projects. Most common now are a slightly modified blackface Super Reverb head, slightly modified blackface Pro Reverb, slightly modified blackface Twin Reverb, Stock blond/black Bassman head. Depending on the amp, the speakers are either Tone Tubby or ElectroVoice. In the last few years, Jimmy has also employed amps from Homestead and Germino, and guitars from PRS; an NF3, a Custom 22 with an extra volume knob for the neck pickup, a 20th PS Anniversary, and a 594. The NF3 and Custom 22 are the most prevalent. A strat with 3 single coils is sometimes used as well.

With Widespread Panic[edit]

At the beginning of Herring's tenure with Widespread Panic he was using his favorite guitar, a 3-color sunburst Stratocaster built by his friend Gene Baker at the Fender Custom Shop, equipped with two Seymour Duncan 59' reissue humbuckers, with a 1973 Marshall Superlead 100 watt amp accompanied by a 4x12 Marshall stereo and a 67' blackface Fender Super Reverb as amplifiers. During the remainder of the Fall 2006 tour Herring continued to use his custom shop Strat. At the beginning of Fall 2007, Herring began using Fuchs Overdrive Supreme amplifiers. Into 2009 Herring continued to use Fuchs amps, but now used a Tripledrive Supreme 100 watt head, and occasionally an Overdrive Supreme 100 watt head. He uses a Tone Tubby 4x12 cab and two 2x12 Hard Truckers speaker cabs with Alnico tone tubby speakers. He also uses a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx for effects, mainly reverb and delay sounds. In 2011 he continues to use Fuchs as his main amplifier. His main guitars are currently the White American Standard Stratocaster with Lollar Imperial humbuckers and an MIJ '62 Telecaster Custom reissue with Lollar Vintage T pickups.



  • Subject To Change without Notice (August 21, 2012)
  • Lifeboat (2008)

Col. Bruce Hampton[edit]

  • Arkansas (1987)

Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit[edit]

  • Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit (1992)
  • Mirrors of Embarrassment (1993)

Aquarium Rescue Unit[edit]

Derek Trucks Band[edit]

Jazz Is Dead[edit]

  • Blue Light Rain (1998)
  • Laughing Water (1999)
  • Great Sky River (2001)


  • Croakin' at Toad's (2000)

Joseph Patrick Moore[edit]

  • Decade 1996-2005 (2006)
  • Soul Cloud (2000)

Project Z[edit]

  • Project Z (2001)
  • Lincoln Memorial (2005)

Herring, T Lavitz, Richie Hayward, Kenny Gradney[edit]

  • Endangered Species (2001)

Phil Lesh and Friends[edit]

Widespread Panic[edit]

Various artists[edit]

  • Fusion for Miles (2005)
  • Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse (2005)
  • The Benefit Concert, Volume 1 (2007)
  • Live in San Fancisco (2018) John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimention/Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip


  1. ^ a b Herring, Jimmy (2008). "Biography 1980". Official Jimmy Herring Website. Blueback Music. Archived from the original on 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  2. ^ Ben Ratliff (March 5, 2003). "In Garcia's Shadow, The Dead's New Guitarist Has His Own Sound". New York Times. New York, New York. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2010.


External links[edit]