The Dillards

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This article is about the band. For the department store chain, see Dillard's.
The Dillards
The Dillards 1977.JPG
The band in 1977
Background information
Origin Salem, Missouri, United States
Genres Bluegrass
Years active 1963-present
Past members

The Dillards are an American bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri, popularly known for their appearance as "The Darlings" on The Andy Griffith Show.[1]

Band members[edit]

The Dillards originally consisted of Douglas Dillard (born March 6, 1937, Salem, Missouri - May 16, 2012) on banjo, Rodney Dillard (born May 18, 1942, Salem, Missouri) playing the guitar, and dobro, Dean Webb (born March 28, 1937, Independence, Missouri) on mandolin, and Mitchell Franklin "Mitch" Jayne (July 5, 1928, Hammond, Indiana – August 2, 2010) on double bass. In 1968, Doug Dillard left to form Dillard and Clark.

The 2015 lineup includes Rodney Dillard and his wife Beverly Cotten-Dillard (clawhammer banjo, vocals), Tony Wray (guitar, banjo, harmony vocals), Jeff Gilkinson (cello, bass, harmonica, porchboard, harmony vocals), Ken Lingad (drum set, cajon, hand and foot percussion, and harmony vocals), Gary Smith (double bass), and George Giddens (fiddle, mandolin, harmony vocal).

Other members of the band have included Dewey Martin (drums), Herb Pedersen (banjo, guitar), Billy Ray Latham (banjo, guitar, electric guitar), Ray Park (fiddle), Paul York (drums), Jeff Gilkinson (bass, cello, harmonica, banjo), Douglas Bounsall (electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle), Byron Berline (fiddle), Irv Dugan (bass), Bill Bryson (bass), Glen D. Hardin (keyboards), Seth Papas (drums), Buddy Blackmon (banjo), Rick McEwen (bass), Ric Williams (drums), Joe Villegas (bass), Eddie Ponder (drums), Pete Grant (banjo, steel guitar), Steve Cooley (banjo, guitar, upright bass), Wilbur Pace (banjo, fiddle, Richard Godfrey (drums), Shane Lail (guitar), Jim Glaspy (banjo, guitar) and Billy Constable (guitar).[2]

The Andy Griffith Show[edit]

Though The Dillards were already an established bluegrass band,[citation needed] their biggest claim to fame is performing musically as members of the fictional Darling family on The Andy Griffith Show, introducing bluegrass to many Americans who had never heard it.[1] This was a recurring role and the Dillards were led by veteran character actor Denver Pyle as their father and jug player, Briscoe Darling. Maggie Peterson played Charlene Darling, their sister and the focus for the attentions of character Ernest T. Bass, played by Howard Morris. The appearances of the Dillards as the Darlings ran between 1963 and 1966. In 1986, the Dillards reprised the role in the reunion show Return to Mayberry.[citation needed] As part of their current tour, Rodney Dillard answers questions about the TV series. He says the songs such as "Dooley" are about people the family knew.[1]

On the October 1963 episode "Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bee", the Dillards performed the first wide scale airing of the 1955 Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith composition Feudin' Banjos (Dueling Banjos).

Pioneering influences[edit]

The Dillards are notable for being among the first bluegrass groups to have electrified their instruments in the mid-1960s.[3] They are considered to be one of the pioneers of the burgeoning southern California folk rock, country rock and progressive bluegrass genres, and are known to have directly or indirectly influenced artists such as The Eagles, The Byrds, and Elton John.[4] In 1972, The Dillards joined Elton John on his first American tour.[1]

Current members[edit]

Beverly Cotten-Dillard is a native of Morrisville, North Carolina who performed with Janette Carter, Ola Belle Reed, Tommy Jarrell, and Doc and Merle Watson. She has appeared on Hee Haw and the Disney Channel and at Carnegie Hall. Cotten-Dillard is recognized as an authority on the traditional "clawhammer" banjo technique and is a featured member of The Dillards live shows. Her 1981 album Clog-In 'is considered an American folk classic."[1]

Jeff Gilkinson has returned to the lineup playing his signature 5-string cello, harmonica, and singing background vocals. Gilkinson is known for his earlier contributions as a member of The Dillards, having penned some of the group's well-known songs, such as Annabel Lee, Hymn to the Road, Mason Dixon, and others, while also recording several records with The Dillards. In addition to his accomplishments with The Dillards, Gilkinson is known for his work with Tom T. Hall, Jennifer Warnes, Mason Williams, Doug Dillard, John Hartford, Delbert McClinton, Michael Johnson, Michael Martin Murphy, Chris Wallin, Jon Vezner, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, and others.

George Giddens is a classically trained musician who is an awarded fiddler and mandolin player for the band.

Ken Lingad serves as the drummer for The Dillards and Music Director. Of Native American (Isleta Pueblo) descent, Lingad was tapped by Rodney Dillard for his diverse experience as a professional percussionist, and for his particular expertise playing cajon and other ethnic hand and foot instruments.

Gary Smith was added to the lineup, having recorded double bass in the 2015 studio sessions for the new Dillards album. Smith is well known in Nashville circles after stints with Tom T. Hall, The Brother Boys, Ed Snodderly, and his long-time collaborator, Jeff Gilkinson.

Tony Wray is the most recent addition to The Dillards, serving lead guitar and banjo picking duties. As of fall 2015, Wray divides his time between live dates and studio sessions with The Dillards, and his own projects.

Current Projects[edit]

A brief reunion between Rodney Dillard and former Dillards member, Jeff Gilkinson, inspired Dillard to invite the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter to rejoin the band. Assuming his previous role as bass player with a twist - utilizing his 5-string cello as the bass voice - Gilkinson began playing full-time with The Dillards in summer of 2014.

Gilkinson, who was already signed to a management deal with Nashville-based 1680Entertainment (1680E), brought Rodney Dillard and The Dillards to the attention of Ken Lingad (the head of the 1680E management group) who immediately signed Dillard to a 360-degree management deal, with the promise of reinvigorating the "Dillards" brand worldwide by "taking the name, image, and music to every man, woman, and child on the planet..."

In the early fall of 2014, Gilkinson reached out to Dillard to pitch a song written by a Nashville artist, urging Dillard to consider recording a brand new album. Pre-production of the untitled "new Dillards album" began in spring 2015. Having not found the right "fit" with various Nashville-based producers, Lingad suggested bringing legendary Grammy Award-winning recording engineer and producer Bil VornDick (Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, The Earls of Leicester, Ralph Stanley, and more) on board the project. With VornDick and Lingad serving as producers, the album commenced recording in September 2015, with VornDick also masterfully handling recording engineer duties.

The recording of the album prompted Rodney Dillard to also augment the newly rebuilt Dillards live band (after previously adding Jeff Gilkinson and Ken Lingad to the lineup) with ace guitar/banjo talent, Tony Wray, and double bassist, Gary Smith.

As-yet-untitled, the full-length "new Dillards album" is scheduled for release in February 2016.



Year Album US Top 200 Label
1963 Back Porch Bluegrass Elektra
1964 Live!!!! Almost!!!
1965 Pickin' and Fiddlin' (with Byron Berline)
1968 Wheatstraw Suite
1970 Copperfields
1972 Roots and Branches 79 Anthem
1973 Tribute to the American Duck Poppy
1977 The Dillards vs. The Incredible L.A. Time Machine Flying Fish
1978 Mountain Rock Crystal Clear
1979 Decade Waltz Flying Fish
1980 Homecoming and Family Reunion
1991 Let It Fly Vanguard
1992 Take Me Along For The Ride
1999 A Long Time Ago: The First Time Live Varèse Sarabande
2006 Early Recordings - 1959


Year Album Label
1976 Country Tracks Elektra
1986 I'll Fly Away Edsel
1991 There Is a Time (1963-70) Vanguard
1995 The Best of The Darlin' Boys
1996 Roots and Branches/Tribute to the American Duck Beat Goes On
2001 Back Porch Bluegrass & Live!!!! Almost!!! Warner Strategic Marketing
2004 Pickin' and Fiddlin', Wheatstraw Suite & Copperfields
2005 Let The Music Flow: The Best of the Dillards 1963-1979 Raven


Year Title Billboard Hot 100 Album Label
1963 Dooley Back Porch Bluegrass Elektra
Hootin' Banjo [Duelin' Banjo]
1965 Nobody Knows singles only Capitol
1966 The Last Thing On My Mind
1968 Reason To Believe Wheatstraw Suite Elektra
1969 Listen To The Sound
1970 Rainmaker Copperfields
Close The Door Lightly
One Too Many Mornings singles only White Whale
Comin' Home Again
1971 It's About Time No. 92 Anthem
1972 One A.M. No. 111 Roots and Branches
America (The Lady Of The Harbor) single only
1973 Hot Rod Banjo Tribute to the American Duck Poppy
1975 Stones Throw Away single only United Artists
1977 The Poet The Dillards Vs. The Incredible L.A. Time Machine Sonet


  1. ^ a b c d e Rifkin, Carol (2012-03-02). "From Mayberry to Black Mountain: The Dillards play mighty fine bluegrass". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved 2012-03-02. 
  2. ^ "Billy Constable: Bluegrass Musician", Blueridge National Heritage Area, retrieved 15 May 2012 
  3. ^ Liner Notes for The Dillards' Wheatstraw Suite
  4. ^ Wolff, Kurt, and Duane, Orla "The Dillards", Country Music: The Rough Guide, p. 215

External links[edit]