RIP Doug Dillard
May 17, 2012 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Doug Dillard was a pioneer of country rock with his band The Dillards, with his brother Rodney, who were perhaps the first to plug bluegrass instruments into amplifiers back in the early sixties. He died today at the age of 75.

The Dillards album Wheatstraw Suite was recorded after Doug left the band to work with Gene Clark, but he worked on the songs and recorded early single versions of some of them. This album is arguably the best country-folk-rock album ever made, outstripping (IMHO) efforts by The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

His work in Dillard and Clark was magnificent, especially "Why Not My Baby", a forgotten masterpiece that somehow marries banjo with a string section (and Gene Clark's plaintive vocal), though it was generally lost in stupid band politics and the remarkable capacity of both principals for self-destruction.

Perhaps The Dillards, and Doug's, biggest impact on the national stage was as The Darlings, the bluegrass band on The Andy Griffith Show, the first time most Americans ever heard this form of their own music.

Here's Doug in (somewhat) later years on Ralph Emery's show Pop! Goes The Country.
posted by Fnarf (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Hells yeah, the Dillards as the Darlings was the first time I'd ever twigged to bluegrass as a young kid growing up in Georgia.

The first song I ever taught myself on the mandolin was their hauntingly beautiful version of "There is a Time", which they performed on the show.

Wonderful musicians.

posted by darkstar at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2012

"How bout Doug's Tune?"
posted by timsteil at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by drezdn at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2012

Sad day for music. RIP.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2012

posted by DreamerFi at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2012

As a kid watching Andy Griffith reruns I always got a little bit excited when I realized that is was a Darlings episode that was running. I didn't know what the music was called and it certainly wasn't being played in my house, but I sure did enjoy it. For all of the times I've zeroed out my MP3 play and started over, the Dillards Greatest Hits has been one of the first albums to go back on.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by ahimsakid at 1:51 PM on May 17, 2012

This is a bad day for awesome, innovative artists! Doug Dillard will surely be missed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:02 PM on May 17, 2012

Oh, we got both kinds. We got bluegrass *and* disco.

posted by hal9k at 3:28 PM on May 17, 2012


Enjoyed these guys very much.
posted by jfuller at 4:45 PM on May 17, 2012

He was great. Check out his electric banjo work on The Monkees' "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?". Boy, I never knew that The Dillards played the Darling clan. Hmm... I need to go fetch my moonshine jug & toot a few sad notes for the passing of Mr. Dillard.
posted by frodisaur at 4:49 PM on May 17, 2012

Doug recalls the first time he heard the music of Earl Scruggs... "I was driving down the road with the radio on. All of a sudden I heard this incredible banjo music. I got so excited that I drove off the road and down into a ditch. I had to be towed out."

posted by mediareport at 5:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and seriously: I don't know why I waited until late in life to dive into the Dillards and that amazing Dillard & Clark album, but don't make the same mistake I did. Had no idea Doug had already left the Dillards by the time Wheatstraw Suite was recorded, but it's also stunningly good. Can't believe I just started listening to them recently.
posted by mediareport at 5:13 PM on May 17, 2012

posted by zaelic at 10:39 PM on May 17, 2012

Yeah, "Why Not Your Baby" is absolutely fantastic. One of the songs I listened to on repeat for weeks at a time, at a point in my life when I had stopped doing that kind of thing.

posted by Beardman at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2012

Yeah, "Why Not Your Baby" is absolutely fantastic. One of the songs I listened to on repeat for weeks at a time, at a point in my life when I had stopped doing that kind of thing.

Oh just fuck me in the ear. I LOVE that song, but have never heard Wheatstraw Suite. (And FWIW I am old enough to have bought this on vinyl) I only knew it from these guys.

I am a bad person.
posted by timsteil at 7:43 PM on May 19, 2012

Does anyone know what movie is used on the "Why Not Your Baby" clip linked above?
posted by 6and12 at 6:06 AM on May 20, 2012

I was wondering the same thing, and my army of search geeks found it: "Strip-Tease", aka "The Sweet Skin", starring Nico (yes, that Nico), directed by Jacques Poitrenaud.
posted by Fnarf at 5:05 PM on May 22, 2012

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