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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Doug Dillard 1937-2012

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zoneboy - Posted - 05/16/2012:  21:16:38

Banjo player and TV performer Doug Dillard, who gained fame for his appearances on "The Andy Griffith Show" with musical group the Dillards (known on the TV series as the "Darlings") has died following a lengthy illness. A family spokesperson tells The Boot that Dillard was taken to a Nashville emergency room on Wednesday night (May 16) and died shortly thereafter.

Doug Dillard was born in Salem, Mo., in 1937 and was playing guitar by age 5. He received his first banjo as a teenager and soon began performing with various bands on radio and TV. He had been encouraged to pursue his instrument by banjo legend Earl Scruggs. According to his official bio, at 16, Dillard wrote a letter to Scruggs and received a positive reply. He then pestered his parents into driving him to Scruggs' home in Madison, Tenn., some five hundred miles away from Salem. Doug brazenly walked up to the front door and rang the bell, introducing himself and asking the iconic banjo picker to install Scruggs' tuners on his banjo.

Along with his brother Rodney, Doug soon formed the Dillards. Their folk-bluegrass blend became popular on college campuses and elsewhere, which led to their move to California and resulted in a recording contract and their stint on the hit CBS series starring Andy Griffith. After parting ways with the Dillards, Doug joined folk-rock group the Byrds on their first European tour. After the tour, Doug teamed up with former Byrds member Gene Clark, forming the influential Dillard & Clark, one of the first acts to popularize the country-rock sound that would include other artists such as Gram Parsons and the musicians who would later form the Eagles. Comedian and banjo player Steve Martin recently told The Boot that Doug Dillard was among the first influences on his banjo playing.

A Grammy-nominated instrumentalist, Doug's distinctive banjo can also be heard on albums by everyone from Hoyt Axton, Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie and Linda Ronstadt to Kay Starr, Glen Campbell, the Monkees and the Beach Boys. In 2009, the Dillards were inducted into the IBMA's Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Funeral arrangements for Doug Dillard are pending.

Edited by - zoneboy on 05/16/2012 21:18:49

GlennM - Posted - 05/16/2012:  21:24:36

I partied with Doug many times at Earl Speilman's house years ago. I'll mis you Doug.

Grinnin&Pickin - Posted - 05/16/2012:  21:25:59

RIP Doug!

danielburdett - Posted - 05/16/2012:  21:27:09

Doug's candle burned out long before his legend ever will.

Banjophobic - Posted - 05/16/2012:  21:41:19

Sad news...another one of the greats passes away this year. Rest in peace Doug and thanks for the music and for being such a good spokesman for our music.yes

bc5000 - Posted - 05/16/2012:  22:10:00


plunka5 - Posted - 05/16/2012:  22:29:39

RIP Doug 

dmiller - Posted - 05/16/2012:  22:30:33

Oh S***!  May he RIP.  Dang.  I was hoping he was on the mend.

The "greats" are leaving us one by one. " />

BigRed_Gibson_Fan - Posted - 05/16/2012:  23:02:13

RIP Doug. He will be greatly missed. Its a sad time in the banjo would losing two of our most iconic players in the same year.

Banjov1 - Posted - 05/16/2012:  23:07:52

Another great one lost... RIP Doug

larry p - Posted - 05/16/2012:  23:24:43

Makes my heart ache to hear this-Doug was a dear Friend that I Love very much: LOTS of fun, interesting, encouraging, inspiring, and a great musician..

Deaf Lester Crawdad - Posted - 05/16/2012:  23:50:15


Originally posted by zoneboy

 Drat.   He was a good player and a nice guy as well.   I used to trade bad jokes with him when he was still living out here on the west coast.

Which reminds me.

He told me once that when it came time to record "Doug's Tune" in it's first incarnation he hadn't yet got the triplet break down pat, so the whole band tuned their instruments down a notch, recorded the tune as fast as he could play it, and then they sped up the tape to get everything back up to concert pitch.   There were banjo players all over the US who were driving themselves crazy trying to match his speed on that break when he himself hadn't actually been able to play it that fast at the time.

He said by the time the album came out, though, he'd been woodshedding and could play the triplet break up to speed so nobody ever caught on that he'd faked it.

I never figured out if that was a true story or if he was just pulling my leg (again), but that was Doug all over either way.


brianbauer78 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  00:30:25

Wow. What a fantastic story! I jam frequently with a not-so-distant relative of Mitch Jayne. We are all bummed here in MO.

banjoy - Posted - 05/17/2012:  00:36:29









HSmith - Posted - 05/17/2012:  00:49:11

I was deeply saddened to read of Doug Dillard's passing. He was a great inspiration to me, and I've been a life-long admirer of his playing. He'll be sorely missed.



From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 05/17/2012:  01:13:35

Very sad. I too thought he was on the mend. The "Darling's" on the Griffith show always made me run to the TV. When the Dillards were together, I thought their more traditional bluegrass was some of the best of its kind going. Doug always seemed to have a great smile on his face. I last saw the Dillards together in Oden Indiana about maybe 5 years ago. I was always proud that I too like the Dillards was born in Salem, Missouri where much of their written material was inspired from. This has been a very sad year for banjo players.

My sympathy to Doug's family and close friends.


Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 05/17/2012 01:15:09

joemac - Posted - 05/17/2012:  01:24:23

god Bless Doug, and keep you safe.

Pluckin Mutha - Posted - 05/17/2012:  01:26:46

What can ya' say? We are constantly faced with our own mortality.

Back in 1967, Doug Dillard was one of my inspirations. His picking was simple and at the same time iconically complex.

R.I.P. Doug


Earls 5 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  03:26:17

RIP Doug we will miss you. Thank you for the music you leave us with!

Old Cremona - Posted - 05/17/2012:  03:51:34

I met Doug at a Banjo Academy in the Ceders of Lebanon state park in 1992. He was in the minority as a "great" who would hang out with the lesser mortals. What a beautiful cat. I will cherish that memory all my life.

fivedrive5 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:06:55

Hate to hear this although I knew he had not been very well for some time.Frist tune I learned of his in the 70's was Doug's tune.. RIP Doug!  Jim

banjomaster1980 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:30:08

Sad news indeed, another great banjo player lost, he was a big influence on my music, he will be missed.

5 String - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:35:53

This is very sad news indeed.

I have had the fortunate opportunity in my life to meet most all of my banjo heroes. I am very sorry to say that I was never afforded the opportunity to meet Doug Dillard.

We have a gig next weekend in NC...I'll be sure to start off a set with 'Banjo In The Hollow' as a tribute.

NCjones - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:38:19

I'm saddened to hear this.   I grew up in the country watching the Andy Griffith show and "The Darlings" were on of the reasons I fell in love with that sound early in life.  I was hoping "someday" to get to Mount Airy and see them.

I was sitting in the music store yesterday lusting over a walnut archtop and the guy behind the counter asked me what "that tune" was I was playing.  It was Doug's Tune. 

Now I'm going to go to my music files and listen to Doug's Tune!

biganvils - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:39:32

One of my favorite banjo pickers. RIP Doug. I believe I'll go pick your tune now........

Ukeridge - Posted - 05/17/2012:  04:51:57

One the greats! Few played with such fire and with such joy. Infectious joy! Hey played intricate, clever solutions at high speed as if he were enjoying a casual game of hopscotch. The most underrated player of all time. His playing---and his grin---should have been known to every music fan. He lived a joyful life, but his passing brings great sadness . . . another I will never meet.

beegee - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:02:43

Doug was my favorite banjo picker back when i started getting serious about banjo. Condolences to his family and friends.

robbif - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:03:29

Terrible, terrible news of a good friend! May you Rest in Peace, Doug,

lazlototh - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:10:19

Man, this is a tough year!

"Doug's Tune" was one of the first Bluegrass tunes that I learned.

He was an inspiration.

This is another sad day!

tom in maine

robbif - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:21:13

I met Doug in 1970 while hanging out with The Expedition, 2 days after returning from Vietnam.

See my article "Vietnam to Vegas" and photos in the April 2012 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited.

robbif - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:44:54

I'm still working on my favorite "Doug's Tune".

What a wonderful legacy from an icon that was still a genuinely nice guy!

banjoy - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:47:05

Had the pleasure of jamming with Doug several times since 1988 when I first met him at TN Banjo Institute and the times I've bumped into him since then.

A very kind and gracious musician, always full of musical joy.

Edited by - banjoy on 05/17/2012 05:49:37

pickNgrin - Posted - 05/17/2012:  05:51:08

One of the greats. RIP Doug.

I don't recall ever seeing a picture of him playing where he wasn't smiling at least a little bit. You could tell that he loved to pick.


Edited by - pickNgrin on 05/17/2012 05:54:42

fatdaddyo6 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  06:08:32

That's not what I was expecting this morning, one of the kindest and friendliest people of I have ever met.
My friend, your friend, Douglas always had time for folks.
Good Bye Old Pal. Bad year for banjo pickers and we are not to June.
Rest well Douglas

Bruce4501 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  06:33:27

RIP Doug. 

He along with Earl are reasons why I wanted to learn (albeit late in life) to pick.

I can still remember seeing the Andy Griffith show and the Beverly Hillbillies thinking how much I would LOVE to pick like these guys.

Here is one of my earliest memories and it seems like a fitting tribute.  This was one of the first songs I learned, in my FIRST attempt at the banjo around 10: 


granada40 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  06:39:27

Doug is one of my all time favorite banjo pickers along with Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Jim Mills. The stuff that the Dillards recorded were some of the most brilliant pieces of music I have ever heard in my life. R.I.P. Doug

JonT - Posted - 05/17/2012:  06:58:15

What a shame. RIP, Douglas. He was such a tasty banjo player. As a college student, I used to go see the Dillards' shows at the Mecca, in Orange County, whenever they came through town. They've been a favorite ever since then. I still listen to their music.

Here's a shot of Doug that I caught at the Huck Finn Jamboree out in Victorville several years back. You can of course click on the image to enlarge it.

Edited by - JonT on 05/17/2012 07:04:00

Douglas Dillard mugging for the camera


alfiedog - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:07:03

Oh No more Terrible News, what with Earl, Barney McKenna, and now Doug Dillard its been a Bad few Months. What a great Banjo Player Back Porch Bluegrass, and Live Almost Live in my Car CD Player. RIP Doug. sad

DannyB4 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:09:45

...what a shame !!...."Doug's Tune"  was one of the earliest tunes I ever learned to try to play. It was the first tune my Mom and sister though was "pretty"....hahahahaha......Jim Holder,( btw, was a fine local mandolin player),  taught  me the tune which goes to show just how much Doug D.'s pickin influenced those  who heard him play. If you want to hear how to drive a break, listen to the 2nd. one he took on Shady Grove from  the AGS....talkin' about shovin' it!!!!!! in peace Douglas Flint Dillard, one of the best....

Edited by - DannyB4 on 05/17/2012 07:16:04

steve davis - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:16:32

I used to check every Andy Griffith show hoping for a Darlings episode.Rare and wonderful playing.
My old boss Vaughn Meader talked with great admiration and respect for Doug Dillard.

Rich Weill - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:17:47

To quote Briscoe Darling (of the fictional Darling family, played by Denver Pyle):  "That makes me cry."

Tonecaster - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:19:59

Sad to hear. He was one of the best!


Jim E. - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:22:30

Back in the '60s, when the Los Angeles area coffee houses and small clubs were the main source of affordable opportunities to see live entertainment, Doug Dillard was on the top of the list of those whose appearances I NEVER missed. In my experience, he was always approachable, gracious, and patient with anyone who sought his advice and direction on picking the banjo. And, lord, what a player! You could listen to a hundred banjoists and Doug's touch and phrasing were ALWAYS immediately identifiable. Truly one of the greats.

bohemian - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:45:20


Jaymz8604 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:48:56

RIP Doug....Hope you're up there trading licks with Earl, Reno, Don Stover, and all the others who have gone on!

banjer5 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:54:57

Such a nice guy, I can truly say he was a major influence on my playing.....I'll miss you Doug.

Fred aka banjer5

Matthew Reis - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:56:27

First Earl, and now Douglas. Rest in peace, Mr. Dillard.

kmwaters - Posted - 05/17/2012:  07:57:12

Wonderful person and great musician.  Back Porch Bluegrass Live...Almost is one of my all time favorite cd's.  RIP Doug.

zoneboy - Posted - 05/17/2012:  08:02:22

I just found out that Rodney Dillard has a birthday tomorrow (May 18th) , certainly a sad time for him. sad

sam fugate - Posted - 05/17/2012:  08:11:49

Sadened by the news of Dougs passing , I remember the first
Time I heard him play. I salute you Doug and all of your accoplishment
. What a great contributor to music.

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