Banjo picker Doug Dillard dies at 75
Just a few days after I featured one of their appearances on the Andy Griffith Show, comes this sad news from the LA Times: “Banjo player Doug Dillard, an influential bluegrass musician who played with many rock outfits and with his family band the Dillards, died Wednesday in Nashville after a long illness, the group’s longtime publisher Lynne Robin Green said Thursday. He was 75.
Dillard and his brother Rodney began playing music together with other members of their family in the 1940s growing up in Salem, Mo., but hit their stride after moving to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and signing with Elektra Records.
The Dillards were among the first bluegrass acts to use amplified instruments, and their music and faces became familiar nationwide when they began appearing on “The Andy Griffith Show” as a band called the Darlin’ Boys. Griffith encouraged them to use their original songs as often as possible on his show. Here’s a clip of them joining Griffith on “Doug’s Tune”:
Their popularity on the TV sitcom led to guest spots on musical variety shows hosted by Judy Garland, Tennessee Ernie Ford and others.
Living and working in Southern California in the 1960s, they were around at the birth of what would become known as country rock, and Doug Dillard, who had been profoundly influenced by banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who also died recently, played for a time with the Byrds, then formed a band with ex-Bryds member Gene Clark called Dillard and Clark.”