Doug Dillard Passes Away
Doug Dillard Passes Away There's no way I can say enough, write, think or be thankful enough to have met and befriended Doug Dillard who left us May 16th 2012. Along with his brother, Rodney, Dean Webb and Mitch Jane - The Dillards - They wrote the preface to the American book of popular Folk & Bluegrass music that morphed into Southern California Country Rock that became the sound of The Byrds, The Eagles and all the subsequent genres we still love today. They were years ahead of their time, writing their own songs and arrangements, introducing them to millions of Americans by their appearances as 'The Darlings' on the Andy Griffith Show.
Their music was rural and real and reminded us that where we came from was still around, thriving in the hills of the Ozarks. Like the fictional "Beverly Hillbillies' the real Dillards actually came to Los Angeles and made their mark on the music scene around 1963. Their songs, like the traditional songs handed down for generations told the stories of real friends and neighbors with a humor that only hard times evokes. But they're version of the music was completely new and original. They rewrote the book on traditional music keeping the best and inventing the rest. Their contribution to the evolution of American music cannot be over-estimated.
I met them around 1965 while working at The Troubadour, the one club in L.A. that really was the world headquarters for the evolving music scene. The Troubadour was where the record industry went to discover the talent that would become the voice of a generation. It was also where everyone hung out and got to form new bands with others. I met and formed a family with one of the girls working there.
Jackie and I loved The Dillards on stage, at the bar, or on the street. They were easy to know. I was inspired to relearn the banjo and bought a beautiful Vega White Laydie #7 after my "Pete Seeger model long-neck banjo" disappeared from a club in New York. I began to create music for the instrument and when it came time to record, it was Doug Dillard I had come into the studio and play the tunes with me. To this day I've never written anything more insanely complicated and as fun to play.
I kept up with Doug and Rodney over the years as they turned into decades. The Dillards had broke up and reunited more times than any group I'd known. Brothers can be tough on each other at times, they were no exceptions. Still as the years passed they'd get back together, play the great songs, and show up at 'Mayberry Reunions' and the like.
It was during 1998, one of those times when the band had been put back together that my dad, Woody Guthrie became a 32˘ postage stamp. I thought it'd be a great idea to record a CD of his songs in a style that hadn't been heard in popular music for decades. I called The Dillards and told them I wanted to make a record with them of my fathers' songs. We made the recording "32˘" and it was scheduled to be released in 2002 (but due to technological difficulties the record was not released until 2008 - now called "32˘ Postage Due" as the price of a first class stamp had gone up).
We announced the 2002 release and planned a big release party to coincide with my annual gig at Carnegie Hall, in NY. I invited The Dillards (who unbelievably had never been on that stage). So November 30, 2002 The Dillards and I played Carnegie Hall together. It was one of the highlights of a lifetime of knowing and loving them and their music.
During the next decade, Dougs' health began to decline, and he'd get better or worse as time went by. We kept in touch. I'd see Rodney too as we'd be going through Branson, MO every so often.
Then the call came from Jackie this morning, that Doug had passed away. And a flood of memories came roaring back like an incoming tide. Damn, Douglas I am going to miss you…