Thursday, May 17, 2012

Douglas Flint Dillard, 1937-2012

Doug Dillard passed away yesterday. He was the banjo picker di tutti banjo pickers. He played fast and accurately and could pick blind drunk and stoned and never miss a lick.

From an obituary, links at site:

Along with his brother Rodney, Doug soon formed the Dillards. Their folk-bluegrass blend became popular on college campuses and elsewhere, which led to their move to California and resulted in a recording contract and their stint on the hit CBS series starring Andy Griffith. After parting ways with the Dillards, Doug joined folk-rock group the Byrds on their first European tour. After the tour, Doug teamed up with former Byrds member Gene Clark, forming the influential Dillard & Clark, one of the first acts to popularize the country-rock sound that would include other artists such as Gram Parsons and the musicians who would later form the Eagles. Comedian and banjo player Steve Martin recently told The Boot that Doug Dillard was among the first influences on his banjo playing.

On the personal level, I became a fan of The Dillards fifty years ago when they first hit L.A.. Mrs. G was a huge fan as well, ten years before we met. She actually knew Doug as she went to see The Dillards perform every chance she got and spent many happy hours listening to them play live. Those were small venues and she got to know him. He had been to her place a couple of times for jam sessions with her favorite band, The Kentucky Colonels.

I met him once in the '70s. We went to a Dillards show at the Palomino Club and between sets he invited her (I got to tag along) into the back room for a visit where we promptly smoked a joint.

He was real nice, a down to earth guy, and I had a great time. He told me I had a nice grin. Doug's grin could light up a room, so that was like Jesus telling me I was a good boy!

Doug was also a Navy veteran, and spent his hitch plunging earthward whilst seated backwards as the rear gunner in a dive bomber. After that, nothing much ever scared him. Heh.

Doug Dillard was a major influence in both bluegrass and country rock for someone most people have never heard of. Here he is as most folks saw him:

Thanks to MikeB43.

And in later years:

Thanks to bannedjoe. Heh.

So long, pal. God'll enjoy the pickin'. We sure did.


I had a "senior moment". Mr. Dillard was not in the Navy. That was Mitch Jayne, bass player for The Dillards. Quite a fellow in his own right.


Fixer said...

There's a hell of a band in heaven.

bat said...

He was one of the gooderns

Gordon said...

Indeed he was.