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The Dirt Band's John McEuen on the Late Doug Dillard

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Doug DillardBy John McEuen
My mentor, the person who showed me that music was exciting and fun to play on stage for people.. the one who was 'impickable' with the execution of his art.. Douglas Flint Dillard.. whose grin would hit the back of the wall from any stage he was on.. has passed away.

There were many times, after I became a 'hanger on' at 17½ yrs old, the Dillards allowed me to hang out in their dressing room as they tuned up to go on for yet another sold out L.A. club show. I would sit there pretending to read a book, but listen like a hawk watches, trying to pick up new nuances of notes. Often, on the way to the stage, Douglas would turn to me and play an incredible previously unheard lick to impress me, and I would ask where that came from. He'd mention another player that he was emulating at that moment, and tell me to check them out. I did. Then he went on stage and played his own style that kept me mesmerized.

So often I went to see them, sometimes 2-3 times a week when they did the L.A. club circuit (usually a week at each place, and there were 8 of them), that my mother told me after that first year of two that I should change my last name to Dillard. Changing my college major from math to banjo was an easy decision that came along then. The fire to be a musical performer had been ignited.

One time, at an after show picking party at the club owner's house, Doug broke a string on his banjo. I always brought mine along, but never played in front of him. I spent many hours studying his attack, strings, setup of his instrument, method of playing, stance, tone... all in vain to try to make mine sound like his. My banjo just did not sound like his. I offered him the use of mine while I changed the string. He started playing it, and ... it sounded just like his. That is when I learned 'it's the archer, not the bow'.

I am grateful to have been able to call Dillard a friend.

There would not have been a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with me in it if it had not been for Doug.. consequently, there would not have been a Will the Circle Be Unbroken album if not for him. Thank you Douglas for what you did for me.

John McEuen
May, 2012
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
CEO SyndicatedNews.net
Producer of A Night in the Ozarks with the Dillardss house, Doug broke a string on his banjo. I always brought mine along, but never played in front of him. I spent many hours studying his attack, strings, setup of his instrument, method of playing, stance, tone... all in vain to try to make mine sound like his. My banjo just did not sound like his. I offered him the use of mine while I changed the string. He started playing it, and ... it sounded just like his. That is when I learned

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