Doug Dillard, an influential banjo player who helped shape rock ‘n’ roll and introduce the nation to bluegrass music during a popular run on “The Andy Griffith Show,” died Wednesday in Nashville. He was 75.
Lynne Robin Green, president of Dillard’s publishing company, said he died due to a lung infection.
Dillard, a founding member of family band The Dillards out of Salem, Mo., was influential in several ways. Dillard, his brother Rodney and two band mates moved west in 1962, rather than taking the usual route to Nashville. They discovered the burgeoning folk scene in Southern California and helped inspire the country rock movement. They were among the first to attempt to modernize bluegrass music, electrifying their instruments and experimenting with rock elements.
Dillard also helped introduce bluegrass to TV viewers as a member of the unusual family band “The Darlings,” who made multiple appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the mid-1960s. He split with the band in the late ‘60s and eventually began a solo career.
The Dillards were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2009.
The group influenced and worked with key members of the Southern California rock scene who spread their ideas to bands like the Eagles, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. John McEuen of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was 16 when he first met Dillard.