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THE KENTUCKY COLONELS

  • A legendary California bluegrass band of the 1960’s featuring the White Brothers—Roland, Eric and Clarence.
  • The White brothers were born in Maine to French Canadian parents. (There were 17 White children altogether.) They moved to Southern California in the 1950’s.
  • Originally called themselves The Country Boys (1956).
  • As youngsters, they won a talent contest which landed them a job as regulars on a Los Angeles television show called “The Town Hall Party.”
  • 1957, banjo player Billy Ray Lathum joined the band which was re-named The Kentucky Colonels.
  • 1959, began playing regularly at the Ash Grove, one of L.A.’s most prestigious folk clubs. Fiddler Scott Stoneman was added and Eric White was replaced by Roger Bush on bass. LeRoy Mack (McNees) also joined the group, playing Dobro™.
  • 1960, appeared on one episode of the Andy Griffith TV Show. (Replaced in later episodes by the Dillards.)
  • 1964, released Appalachian Swing album (World Pacific).
  • 1964, released Long Journey Home album (reissued on Vanguard in 1991).
  • 1964, released Livin’ in the Past album (live recordings released 1975 on Sierra Records).
  • 1966, broke up.
  • 1973, they reunited for a European tour, with Herb Pederson playing banjo.
  • Clarence became a session musician in L.A. and later joined the Byrds. He died in 1973 at the age of 29 in an auto accident. He is credited with bringing the guitar into prominence as a lead instrument in bluegrass. Tony Rice was inspired by Clarence and now owns Clarence’s Martin D-28 guitar.
  • Roland went on to work with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, The Country Gazette and The Nashville Bluegrass Band.
  • Billy Ray Lathum joined the Dillards in the 1970’s and worked with Herb Pederson in an L.A. band The Laurel Canyon Ramblers. He also had a San Diego-based group called Banjovi.
  • Roger Bush joined fiddler Byron Berline to form The Country Gazette.
  • LeRoy Mack formed a gospel group called Born Again Bluegrass. He also recorded several solo projects. He has continued to tour, performing at festivals and churches.
  • 2016, Clarence White was inducted into the IBMA’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
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