Archive for May 30th, 2012
Steve told me when he called me to his home about becoming CEO, he said “I witnessed what happened at Disney when Walt passed away.” He said people would go to meetings and say “What would Walt have done? What decision would he have made?”
He looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and told me to never ask what he would do. Just do what’s right.
There are worse guiding principles.
In the fall of 1968, Bill Wedenoja, one of WC’s dorm mates at the University of Oregon talked WC into attending a concert at The Fish Bowl by The Dillards, who were touring in support of a new album, Wheatstraw Suite. It was an eye-opener.
That night the Dillards performed electrified bluegrass music, with strong rock influences, in a themed concert, based largely on the new album but also exploring the history of American music. Songs like “Some Glad Morning,” performed a cappella by Doug Dillard, Rodney Dillard and Herb Pederson. Silly stuff like “The Biggest Whatever.” Extraordinary solo banjo work by Doug Dillard, unmatched until WC heard Bella Fleck. Electric guitar by Herb Pederson, in a bluegrass band. Drums, in a bluegrass band. A truly remarkable concert.
In its own way what The Dillards did on Wheatstraw Suite was as remarkable and controversial in bluegrass as Bob Dylan’s appearance with an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The Dillards changed the rules.
WC spent some his hard-earned money on a copy of Wheatstraw Suite, which oddly enough doesn’t feature Doug Dillard. WC wore the vinyl out replaying it, and WC famously doesn’t like bluegrass.
Purist bluegrass fans were appalled by The Dillards’ electrification, but the group had immense influence, far beyond their limited popular success. They were a major influence on the California country-rock and folk-rock movement, and their sound was used by groups like The Eagles and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Doug Dillard gradually left the band that bore his name. He later teamed up with Gene Clark from the Byrds as Dillard & Clark. After a couple of influential but commercially unsuccessful albums, that group broke up and Doug Dillard moved through a series of bands before settling in as a studio musician in Nashville.
Doug Dillard died in Nashville May 16. His influence extended far beyond his fame. R.I.P., Doug.