Oct. 5, 1990: The Darling Boys Come To Town

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
It was an unforgettable night on Oct. 5, 1990, when Doniphan’s own Bob Lewis Family welcomed the Dillards on stage in front of about 400 people at the local armory. Fans of television’s The Andy Griffith Show will remember the Dillards as the sons of mountain man Briscoe Darling (actor Denver Pyle) who occasionally called on Sheriff Taylor for help in solving a problem and to play a little bluegrass music. They appeared on the show from 1963-66 and while the boys never said a word on the show, with Andy’s encouragement, they squeezed five or six songs into each episode. Pictured above at the armory from left are three of the four original ‘Darling boys,’ Dean Webb, Mitch Jayne and Rodney Dillard. The fourth ‘Darling brother’ Doug Dillard already had left the band to become a music producer in Branson. The story about how four young men from Salem, Mo., helped introduce bluegrass music to the west coast and a worldwide television audience is as entertaining as an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Jayne was a one-room school teacher in the 1950s near Lecoma, Mo., before consolidation closed the school and led him to take a job at the radio station in Salem. His homespun humor made him a local hit with on-air shows like the “Tick And Snake Market Report.” Jayne, a World War II tail gunner on a fighter bomber, was the one that talked the band into going to California. He learned to play the bass in the backseat on the drive there. The west coast welcomed the electrified bluegrass sound of the Dillards, who are credited as pioneers of the California folk rock and country sound made famous by bands like The Eagles. They also joined Elton John on his first American tour. Jayne soon returned to Missouri due to hearing problems and began writing. His book, Old Fish Hawk, was published in 1970 and later made into a movie. Webb, Jayne and Doug Dillard have since passed away. Rodney continues to keep the Dillards name alive with a new band.

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