White, Clarence


  • From Los Angeles (Burbank), California (although he was born in Lewiston, Maine).
  • He began playing the guitar at age 5. Started out playing the ukelele until his hands were big enough to handle a guitar.
  • He and his brothers Roland and Eric formed a band called The Country Boys, appearing regularly on a popular local Los Angeles country music TV show. That group became The Kentucky Colonels. They recorded one album for World Pacific and appeared on the Andy Griffith TV show (before the Dillards did).
  • 1967, after the Kentucky Colonels disbanded, he formed a country-rock band called Nashville West. He and bandmate Gene Parsons invented a device called the Parsons/White Stringbender (or B-Bender) which allows an electric guitar string to “bend” while playing, imitating the sound of a pedal steel guitar. Marty Stuart owns the original guitar that Clarence played during that period.
  • 1968, he joined the Byrds, replacing Gram Parsons.
  • 1973, joined Muleskinner with Richard Greene, David Grisman, Bill Keith and Peter Rowan.
  • 1973, reunited with Roland and Eric White for two tours of Europe as The New Kentucky Colonels. The banjo spot in the group was Herb Pederson and Alan Munde.
  • 1973, he died at the age of 29 after being struck by a drunk driver.
  • His style of flat-picking the guitar influenced a generation of bluegrass musicians including Tony Rice, Dan Crary, Norman Blake, David Grier and many others. He is also credited with helping to shape the sound of country-rock music.
  • Tony Rice owns his 1935 Martin D-28 guitar.
  • 2000, an album was released by Sierra Records by Clarence White called 33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals. The recordings were made on a home tape recorder in 1962.
  • 2016, he was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.