White Boys

Roland, Clarence & Eric

Clarence was born on June 7th 1944 in Madawaska, Maine as Clarence Joseph LeBlanc. Nearly all his close relatives were born in Canada of French ancestry - and soon LeBlanc was changed to WHITE.
White Boys

Roland, Eric & Clarence

Musically the family heritage was a rich one and their home was filled with the sound of traditional fiddle music and country music after work and on weekends. Their father Eric White, Sr. played fiddle, banjo, harmonica and guitar.

1950 - 1959

At the age of 8 Clarence's brother Roland, older by 6 years, learnt his first chords on guitar from his father Eric and two years later got his first mandolin. Although Clarence first played the guitar when he was six years old, the first instrument he owned was a Ukelele given to him by his father for Christmas 1950 and from then he started strumming the Ukelele to accompany Roland's mandolin playing before graduating to the guitar. Clarence gave his first public performance aged 8 at a local "Grange Hall" entertainment in Chinalake, Maine.
They played standard country numbers like "Ragtime Annie", "Golden Slippers", "Rubber Dolly" and "Under The Double Eagle" - a famous march written by Josef Franz Wagner, who was born in Vienna, Austria 1856.

White brothers & sister

Eric, Roland, Joanna & Clarence

In 1954 the whole family moved from Madawaska, Maine to Burbank, California where they joined an aunt who had preceded them in finding work. Shortly thereafter, they learned of a talent show "Country Show" every sunday on KXLA in Pasadena. Going by the name of THREE LITTLE COUNTRY BOYS, the children won a show, and they began to appear on many local radio & TV shows such as "Squeskin' Deacon's Show", "The Old Riverside Rancho Show" or "Cal's Corral". At that time, Eric, the middle brother, played tenor banjo and bass, Roland was on mandoling with Clarence on guitar and for a short time, their sister, Joanna, sang with them and sometimes played the bass.

Roland White first heard Bluegrass in 1955 (before the family moved to California, they had not seen live Bluegrass music, and neither was it very popular in California at this time) on a record of Bill Monroe "Pike County Breakdown" and he fell in love with that music.

The Country Boys

LeRoy, Billy Ray, Eric, Clarence & Roland

Joe and Rose Maphis further helped fire the enthusiasm of the young White brothers for Bluegrass music. Joe Maphis gave some tapes of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian to Clarence, and Joe taught him the basics of various guitar playing styles.

In the middle of 1957 the three brothers began appearing regularly on a local radio show.

At the age of 19, Roland set out for Nashville and in his absence the White family met Billy Ray Lathum who moved to California from Cave City, Arkansas and the name was shortened to THE COUNTRY BOYS.

Roland returned just in time for the group to begin picking small local jobs. Shortly thereafter, they also met LeRoy Mack (LeRoy McNees) who played the dobro and began playing some back-up for the group - Billy Ray played the banjo. They regularly appeared at the "Frontier Club" in Pomona, CA, two nights every week.

Up until about 1959, they had little contact with any live bluegrass or acoustic music except through occasional concerts at the Town Hall Party. The Ash Grove was to be the scene of their introduction to many folk acts. Through the New Lost City Ramblers they met Ed Pearl, manager of the Ash Grove, who subsequently booked the Country Boys. At the time, Clarence and Eric were still in school and the others had day jobs.

The band (Clarence, Roland & Eric White, Billy Ray Lathum and LeRoy Mack) practiced and recorded songs at LeRoy Mack's parents' residence. They practiced songs like: Angel Of Death / Who Will Sing For Me / Singing All Day / If I Be Lifted Up / Wicked Path Of Sin / Are You Afraid To Die / Let Me Walk Alone / Workin' On A Building / A Beautiful Life / Old Time Religion.

The first COUNTRY BOYS single was released 1959 on the "Sundown" label: "I'm Head Over Heals In Love With You" / "Kentucky Hills".

Sundown single THE COUNTRY BOYS - single Sundown single
- THE COUNTRY BOYS: I'm Head Over Heels In Love With You / Kentucky Hills (Sundown Records SD 131)
with Clarence White, Roland White, Eric White, Billy Ray Lathum & LeRoy Mack.

Note: "I'm Head Over Hells In Love With You" was written by Lester Flatt!


1960 Clarence bought the 1934 Martin Guitar D-28 (Serial number 58957) at McCabes music shop in Santa Monica, CA. The instrument was unusual in that it had an enlarged soundhole and an extended Gretch fingerboard. Clarence sold the guitar 1965.


Early 1961 THE COUNTRY BOYS appeared on the Andy Griffith Show of NBC-TV. Steve Stebbins of Americana Corporation (Woodland Hills, CA) arranged them to appear on that famous TV show. THE COUNTRY BOYS appear in Episode 19 "Mayberry On Record" and Episode 29 "Quiet Sam". On Episode 29 they just played some music in a wedding scene, they were not on camera. (Roland was in the army when they did Episode 29.)
The songs they played on the show appeared later on an omnibus album with the title "Songs, Themes & Laughs From The Andy Griffith Show" wich was released on the "Capitol label".

Note: Sierra Records has include the performance of The Country Boys from the Andy Griffith Show on the Clarence White DVD released 2005.

Clarence & Billy Ray

Clarence & Billy Ray

Andy Griffith Show

A. Griffith, Roland, Eric & Clarence
Billy Ray Lathum & LeRoy Mack

Eric & Clarence

Eric & Clarence

- THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW: Songs, Themes And Laughs From The Andy Griffith Show (Capitol ST-1611)
with Clarence White, Roland White, Eric White, Billy Ray Lathum & LeRoy Mack.

Songs performed by THE COUNTRY BOYS:

Flop-Eared Mule / Sourwood Mountain / The New River Train / Cindy

THE COUNTRY BOYS recorded their second single "The Valley Bellow" / "High On A Mountain" which was released on the "Republic" label.

Country Boys single THE COUNTRY BOYS - single
- THE COUNTRY BOYS: The Valley Bellow / High On A Mountain (Republic - 2013)
with Clarence White, Roland White, Eric White, Billy Ray Lathum & LeRoy Mack.

Note: "The Valley Below" was written by Eddie Miller & Bob Morris.

Eric left the band summer of 1961 to get married, the group asked Roger Bush, who used to drop by to hear them play, if he would be the new bass player.

The new COUNTRY BOYS teamed up with singer and guitarist Hal Poindexter for one single for "Hi-Lee" Records - "Ain't Gonna Worry 'Bout Tomorrow" / "Carolina Sweetheart".

- HAL POINDEXTER & THE COUNTRY BOYS: Ain't Gonna Worry 'Bout Tomorrow / Carolina Sweetheart (Hi-Lee 1804)
with Clarence White, Roland White, Billy Ray Lathum, LeRoy Mack, Roger Bush & Hal Poindexter.

THE COUNTRY BOYS' first real road work was a tour to Missouri, where a friend had found a job for them. The tour was cut short, because Roland got a registered letter containing his draft notice. Roland's army years (in West Germany) were a disruptive factor in the life of the COUNTRY BOYS.
Roger and LeRoy took on the lead vocals and Clarence volunteered to take on more solo work.

Country Boys

LeRoy, Billy Ray, Roger Bush & Clarence
(Roland in the army)

You can hear the line-up (Clarence, Roland, Billy Ray, LeRoy and Roger) on the Sierra Records release "The Kentucky Colonels: Livin In The Past" performing the songs "Memphis Special" and "Journey's End" - taped at the "Ash Grove", September 1961.


In early 1962 Clarence first heard and met Doc Watson at the "Ash Grove".

Within the first month of 1962 Scott Hambly (mandolin player for the "Redwood Canyon Ramblers" replaced Roland White (who was drafted to the army) on the mandolin.

Again practice sessions were taped at LeRoy Mack's parents' residence but now only Clarence (of the White brothers), Billy Ray, LeRoy Mack, Roger Bush and Scott Hambly. Songs they rehearsed were: Lonesome Road Blues (with Scott Hambly on lead vocals) / Muleskinner Blues (with Scott Hambly on lead vocals) / Shuckin' The Corn / Walkin' Dog / Poison Love / Whitehouse Blues / Satan's Train / Banks Of The Ohio (with Leroy Mack on lead vocals) / and various instrumentals (1 mandolin instrumental by Clarence!).

The band performed at "Cal's Corral" TV show in late April 1962 with Joe Maphis as a guest.

In October 1962 the album "Rose Lee & Joe Maphis" including The Kentucky Colonels was released on "Capitol Records". This was the first studio album of Joe Maphis (King of the strings) and his singing partner, wife, Rose Lee.
This CD was relesed on CD 2013 with bonus tracks and video clip and is available from Sierra Records!

Rose Lee & Joe Maphis

Original album


CD release

- ROSE LEE & JOE MAPHIS (album: Capitol T 1778 and CD 6039)
Rose Lee & Joe Maphis feat. Jelly Sanders and THE KENTUCKY COLONELS (Clarence White, LeRoy Mack, Billy Ray Lathum & Roger Bush).
Produced by Ken Nelson.

Flowers on the sunny side / Why do you weep, dear willow / There'll come a time / Maple on the hill / Teardrops falling in the snow
Put my little shoes away / Lonesome train / Little rosewood casket / Whiskey is the devil in liquid form
Speak to me, little Darlin' / Little mother of the hills
Bonus tracks on CD: Picture on the wall / Hot corn, cold corn / Blue ridge mountain blues (lead vocals Johnny bond) / Singing all day & dinner on the ground
Also on CD a video clip of Rose Lee & Joe Maphis with the Kentucky Colonels as they made a guest appearnce on a Jerry Lewis TV special feat. Jerry Lewis.

THE COUNTRY BOYS also continued to function to some degree, cutting a single and album for Paul Cohen's Briar Records. The single was released as THE COUNTRY BOYS and the album as THE KENTUCKY COLONELS.

THE COUNTRY BOYS - single Briar single
- THE COUNTRY BOYS: To Prove My Love For You / Just Joshing (Briar 150)
Produced by Ralph & Carter Stanley.
With Clarence White, Billy Ray Lathum, LeRoy Mack & Roger Bush.
Guest Gordon Terry on fiddle.

Note: "To Prove My Love For You" written by LeRoy Mack,
"Just Joshing" written by B. Graves/C. Winfield/E.P. Tullock.

The album was recorded in September 1962 "New Sounds Of Bluegrass America" and they changed their name to the KENTUCKY COLONELS. Joe Maphis came up with the name, their old name being unsuitable as it was also the name of Mac Wiseman's band. Gordon Terry joined the sessions on fiddle. The album featured material written by LeRoy Mack (one song by Billy Ray Lathum) and was produced by Ralph and Carter Stanley.

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