Doug & Rodney Dillard (Part 1)

Before The Dillards

1953 - 1961

Doug and Rodney Dillard

Doug and Rodney made their debut in Salem as part of a family band. They played for square dances and pie suppers mostly. Their dad played fiddle, their mother guitar and the oldest brother keyboard. They played all the old-time numbers like "Sally Goodin'" and "Bill Cheatham".
As a teenager Doug Dillard (born March 6, 1937) and his lifelong buddy Bill Glenn played up and down the streets of Salem/Missouri and played songs for anyone who would listen. Doug started to play guitar at the age of 5 and got his first banjo at the age of 15.

Howe Teague Band

Holly W. Pittman / Howe Teague / Larry Teague / R. Dillard / D. Dillard

In 1953 Doug played banjo for the "HOWE TEAGUE BAND" and later brother Rodney too.

Doug & Rodney

Doug & Rodney

From 1956 to 1959 Doug and younger brother Rodney Dillard (born May 18, 1942) along with Bill Glenn and friends Henry Lewis, Jim Lewis and Paul Breidenbach formed the "OZARK MOUNTAIN BOYS". Mitch Jayne, a local radio personality, invited the boys to play on "Hickory Hollow" his weekly Saturday morning radio show on KSMO in Salem.
1957 Doug played also with the "HAWTHORN BROTHERS" and during that year and 1958 he appeared on TV with the "Lee Mace and the Ozark Opry".

2005 Rodney Dillard released a CD with the title "The Dillards - Douglas and Rodney: The lost years and was re-released by Varese Sarabande label 2006 as "The Dillards - Early Recordings - 1959":

- THE DILLARDS - Douglas and Rodney: The Lost Years and Early Recordings - 1959 (Cotten-Dillard Prod. / Varese Sarabande 3020667162)
With Doug Dillard & Rodney Dillard
Special guest Dean Webb (his mandolin and vocals were later added!!!).

This recording was the beginning of a life adventure for brothers Douglas and Rodney Dillard. It was before the record company suits, with calculators in hand, marketed the music like soap, concerned only with the bottom line. This recording was made from the joy of the moment, not being concerned about the results or its effect on the world. It was created out of pure love for the music. (Recorded 1959)

1958/59 Doug and Rodney Dillard cut a few songs on a tape recorder in Doug's living room on which one of the backing musicians was a young fiddle player named John Hartford. The K-Ark label in St. Louis released those recordings 1961:

Two singles:

- DILLARD BROTHERS: Doug's Breakdown/My Own True Love (K-Ark Records 619)
- DILLARD BROTHERS: Mama Don't Allow/Highway Of Sorrow (K-Ark Records 225)

One EP:

- DILLARD BROTHERS: I Saw The Light/Build Me A Cabin In The Corner Of Glory Land/Jesus Is Standing At My Right Hand (K-Ark Records)

K-Ark singles

In 1958 and 1959 Doug and Rodney got together with the "Hawthorn Brothers" and the "Lewis Brothers" in a bluegrass package.

with Joe Noel

Rodney & Buddie Van
John Hartford, Joe Noel
& Doug

Later Doug and Rodney teamed with Joe Noel on mandolin, John Hartford on fiddle and Buddie Van on bass to form the DIXIE RAMBLERS. In 1960 they cut a single produced by John Capps for K-Ark Records but John Hartford missed the session, because he was in the Army:

- JOE NOEL & THE DIXIE RAMBLERS: Banjo In The Hollow/You're On My Mind (K-Ark Records 615)

Joe Noel singleNote: "Banjo in the hollow" was written by Doug Dillard - on the single is written "Ron & Dug" Dillard.

The Dixie Ramblers played in clubs around the St. Louis area, but the Dillard brothers soon left the band.

Note: K-Ark released under their Discoteque series - probably from the early 70's - 6 song 7" EPs used to stock jukeboxes. They did a series of them with The Dillards, Onie and Karen Wheeler, Eddie Bond, Carl Phillips, etc... .
The Dillards EP is numbered 102-B (Bill Bohannon is on the A side) and has following songs:

  • Banjo In The Hollow (that's from the Joe Noel & The Dixie Ramblers single)
  • My Own True Love (from The Dillard Brothers single)
  • Doug's Tune (from The Dillard Brothers single) - that's Doug's Breakdown

    After a few years - Doug was a book-keeper in St. Louis and Rodney was in college (only a few weeks before final exams) - Doug and Rodney agreed to try their luck in being a full time musician. Doug and Rodney hooked up with Mitch Jayne (born July 4, 1928) and plotted their future. Mitch Jayne taught backwoods schools and was radio announcer in Salem. Findind a mandolin player was simple. The Dillards called Dean Webb (born March 28, 1937) and laid out their plan. They met Dean at "The Ozark Opry" in 1960. Dean started playing in a band with two cousins, Duane and Clifford Webb. The group played for hospitals and retirement homes in Independence and Kansas City on a volunteer basis. He also took a job as a bass player in a local band which played dance music in the various honky tonks. He eventually hooked up with a young banjo picker, Lonnie Hoppers and Bob Penny to form a bluegrass band, the Ozark Mountain Boys. (This was a different band than Doug Dillard's band with the same name!) Mitch joined the Dillards because it provided him the perfect opportunity to shine in public doing what he did best, spinning yarns and telling tales about the people of the Ozarks. The only instrument the Dillards needed was the bass and so Doug, Rodney and Dean taught Mitch how to play the bass.


    Rodney, Doug, Dean & Mitch


    Dean, Doug, Rodney & Mitch


    Dean, Doug, Rodney & Mitch

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