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Doug Dillard, Legendary Banjo Player, Dead at 75

Doug Dillard

Doug Dillard, an accomplished banjo player who gained notoriety with his appearances on the ‘The Andy Griffth Show,’ passed away last night (May 16) after a trip to a Nashville emergency room, according to the Boot. The IBMA’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame member was 75-years-old.

Born in Salem, Mo. in 1937, Dillard began playing guitar by the age of 5. By his teenage years, the young virtuoso was already a seasoned banjo player, crafting his skills performing in bands for both radio and television appearances. Dillard’s most notable career highlights include his partnership with brother, Rodney, to form the Dillards. Their unique bluegrass sound caught the attention of television executives, which lead to recurring appearances on ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’

After parting ways with the Dillards, the banjo player joined folk-rock group the Byrds for their first European tour. Shortly after, Dillard joined forces with the band’s former member Gene Clark, forming Dillard & Clark — a defining duo in the country-rock blend revolution.

As a studio musician, Dillard’s progressive Grammy-winning banjo playing can be heard on albums from Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, the Beach Boys and the Monkees. Actor-turned-bluegrass musician Steve Martin cites Dillard as one of his musical influences. As for Dillard, he found his way into the banjo world at the guidance of the legendary Earl Scruggs, who passed in March.

Details about a funeral for the banjo-playing great have yet to be announced.

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