influenced at least two generations’ worth of young pickers.
By Fred Mills
In a week that brought sad news of the passings of disco
legend Donna Sumer and go-go Godfather Chuck Brown, another hugely influential
musician also died, on Wednesday (May 16): Doug Dillard, founding member of
contemporary-era bluegrass pioneers The Dillards, and a sideman and
collaborator to scores of popular rock and country artists. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Dillard, who
suffered a collapsed lung several months ago, recently developed a lung
infection and died in a Nashville
hospital.” He was 75.
In addition to sibling group The Dillards (Doug, Rodney and
Earl) – aka recurring musician characters “The Darlin’ Boys,” to aficionados of
the old Andy Griffith television show – the banjo player formed Dillard & Clark in the late ’60s with erstwhile Byrds vocalist Gene Clark (essential listening: The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark) and he
continue to perform and record throughout his life until a couple of years ago
when his health went into steep decline. Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers founder
Chris Hillman is quoted by the Times as saying, “I would put him at the very top level of proficiency on the
banjo, right up there with Earl Scruggs. He was a great musician, and he
greatly influenced me.”
The Dillards were inducted into the International Bluegrass
Music Association Hall of Fame in 2009.