The Dillards Enter Bluegrass Hall of Fame
A Salem Missouri band who helped popularize Bluegrass music with 6 early appearances on the Andy Griffith Show, will be inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame tonight (10-01) in Nashville. Mike Smith has the story.
For Immediate Release: August 13, 2009
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THE LONESOME PINE FIDDLERS and THE DILLARDS to be Inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame
NASHVILLE, TENN. --IBMA is proud to announce two inductees to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame for 2009: The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, the legendary string band formed in 1937 by Ezra Cline in West Virginia and The Dillards, the influential band from Salem, Missouri known for their popular appearances on The Andy Griffith Show who blazed a trail on the 1960s West Coast music scene for progressive bluegrass bands.
One of the earliest bluegrass groups, The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers left a legacy of some of the finest examples of intense, raw-edged music ever recorded, including original songs like "I'm Left Alone," "Nobody Cares (Not Even You)," "Twenty-One Years," "My Brown Eyed Darling" and "Dirty Dishes Blues." Founded in West Virginia in 1937 by Ezra Cline, the initial band included his cousins "Curly" Ray and Ireland "Lazy Ned" along with Gordon Jennings. Over the years the group weathered a number of personnel changes, performing a variety of music ranging from old-time to bluegrass and country.
After a hiatus during World War II where Ned was killed in action, the band resumed their daily broadcasts on WHIS, and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Cline joined the band full-time. In 1949 fiddler Ray Morgan, Bob Osborne (guitar) and Larry Richardson (banjo) joined the group, and their style shifted to full-fledged bluegrass. They recorded four records for the Cozy label in 1950, including "Pain in My Heart," which has since become a bluegrass standard recorded by many artists including Flatt & Scruggs.
A number of respected musicians performed with the band through the mid-'60s, including Paul Williams and Ray & Melvin Goins. In addition to being the first bluegrass band signed to the RCA Victor label in the 1950s, The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers later recorded for the Starday label. They played radio station WJR in Detroit and WLSI in Pikeville, Kentucky in the 1950s, and they hosted television programs in Huntington, West Virginia and Bristol, Virginia from the late 1950s through the early 1960s. By the mid-'60s the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers disbanded, and their former members over the years have pursued distinguished careers with other bands including Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys, The Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, The Osborne Brothers and The Goins Brothers.
The Dillards were a driving force in modernizing and popularizing the sound of bluegrass in the 1960s and '70s. Rodney Dillard (guitar) and Douglas Dillard (banjo) grew up playing music with their family and friends (including a teenaged John Hartford) in Missouri. They performed on a St. Louis radio station as The Dillard Brothers in 1958, recording for a local label. After meeting Dean Webb they recruited him to play mandolin and bass for another self-produced recording which ended up in the hands of Mitch Jayne, a one-room school teacher who hosted a radio show called "Hickory Hollow," in Salem. Mitch attracted the attention of a manager when he was visiting his sister in California in 1961, and then he went back to Missouri to tell the guys he wanted to learn bass and join the band as their emcee, utilizing his talent as a storyteller.
The Dillards played their first show at Washington University in St. Louis and hit the road for Los Angeles in 1962 with $300 in their pockets, stopping to work in Oklahoma. Their first night in L.A. they went to see the Greenbriar Boys at a club called The Ash Grove. They were invited onstage to jam and impressed an Elektra Records rep in the crowd; by the next evening they had a record deal. A DesiLu Studios rep saw an ad in Variety magazine about Elektra signing the Dillards, and within days they were called in to audition for the role of The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show. Despite the fact that The Dillards recorded only six episodes for the program, they continue to be the most often seen bluegrass artists on television, thanks to re-runs.
Their first three albums include original songs that have become bluegrass standards like "The Old Home Place," "Dooley," "Doug's Tune," "Banjo in the Holler" and "There is a Time." The Dillards incorporated stand-up comedy into their stage show, and their talents as entertainers brought bluegrass to new audiences in urban clubs from L.A. to New York City, on college campuses, in movie scores, at folk festivals and on tour with mainstream rock bands and comedians.
By the late '60s The Dillards had become a driving force in creating new sounds in the West Coast music environment-sometimes upsetting bluegrass purists as they amplified their instruments and added drums and steel guitar. The band's unique flair for songwriting and arrangement affected a broad range of important future musicians in the bluegrass and pop music world alike, and they are credited with helping set the stage for the "country rock" movement and the burgeoning progressive sounds of bluegrass.
The band would experience personnel changes in 1967 but has reunited periodically in concert and television appearances, and members continue to pursue a broad array of music related opportunities.
The Hall of Fame inductions will be one of the high points of the International Bluegrass Music Awards, which will take place October 1, 2009 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ibma.org or by calling 1-888-GET-IBMA or (615) 256-3222.
The Hall of Fame is housed in the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky.