Dillards, The


  • From Salem, Missouri although for most of their career together as a band they lived in Los Angeles, California.
  • Rodney Dillard (guitar) and Doug Dillard (banjo) began performing together as The Dillard Brothers in 1958. Their original band included John Hartford on fiddle.
  • 1962, formed The Dillards with Mitch Jayne (bass) and Dean Webb (mandolin). This configuration of the band was together for six years and is considered the “original” Dillards.
  • 1962, decided to try their luck in California. After arriving in Los Angeles (November, 1962) they performed at the famous folk club The Ash Grove. This led to their record deal with Elektra Records and an appearance of several episodes of the Andy Griffith Show playing a family of slow-witted hillbillies called The Darlin’ Family.
  • 1963, recorded the first of three classic albums: “Backporch Bluegrass,” “Live … Almost,” and “Pickin’ and Fiddlin” with Byron Berline on fiddle (Elektra).
  • 1963, recorded an album under the name The Folkswingers titled “12 String Guitar!” (World Pacific) with Glen Campbell playing 12-string guitar.
  • 1964, appeared on the Judy Garland TV Show
  • They are considered one of the most influential bluegrass bands of the 1960’s, especially on the west coast. Among those who have credited the Dillards with many of their musical ideas: the late Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman (The Byrds and the Desert Rose Band), Byron Berline, Bernie Leadon (The Eagles), John McEuen (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), John Hartford, Steve Martin, Sam Bush, many others.
  • They were the first (and perhaps only) bluegrass band to incorporate stand-up comedy into its act, featuring storyteller Mitch Jayne, along with the unpredictable antics of Rodney Dillard, who was the butt of most of Mitch’s jokes.
  • 1966-67, toured with the Byrds which led to Doug Dillard’s departure to form a new band with The Byrds’ Gene Clark called The Dillard and Clark Expedition.
  • 1968, Doug Dillard was replaced by Herb Pederson and it was during this period that the Dillards recorded two landmark albums, “Wheatstraw Suite” and “Copperfields.” The group also added drummer Paul York.
  • 1972, toured with Elton John.
  • After Herb Pederson left the Dillards in 1972 (he was replaced by Billy Ray Latham), the group went through several personnel changes, including the retirement of Mitch Jayne (he was replaced by Jeff Gilkinson). The group eventually folded and during most of the 80’s, Rodney and Dean worked together at Silver Dollar City, a theme park in Branson, Missouri.
  • Following a reunion tour in 1989, they attempted a comeback with Steve Cooley on banjo, recording two new albums for Vanguard Records.
  • 1999, drummer Paul York died at the age of 58.
  • 2002, the original band made an appearance at Carnegie Hall with Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
  • 2006, John McEuen produced a documentary video about the original Dillards called “A Night in the Ozarks.”
  • 2007, Mitch Jayne published his first novel “Fiddler’s Ghost.”
  • 2009, The Dillards were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. All four of the original band were present to receive the honor at the IBMA Awards Show in Nashville.
  • 2009, Dean formed a new band called Missouri Boat Ride (named after a line in the movie “The Outlaw Josie Wales.”)
  • 2010, Rodney began touring and recording as Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band. Released I Wish Life Was Like Mayberry album (Rural Rhythm).
  • 2010, Mitch Jayne died at the age of 80.
  • 2012, Doug Dillard died at the age of 75.
  • 2018, Dean Webb died at the age of 81.
  • 2019, Rodney and wife Beverly Cotton began performing and recording as The Dillards with supporting musicians George Giddens (fiddle/mandolin), Cory Walker/Tony Wray (banjo) and Gary Smith (bass).
  • 2020, released Old Road New Again album (Pinecastle)  with guests Don Henley, Herb Pedersen, Bernie Leadon, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, and Sharon and Cheryl White.