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Subject: Dean Webb, mandolin player from "The Dillards"

Dies at 81
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Date Posted: Thursday, July 05, 12:17:30pm


A musician known for a fictional band on a beloved TV show died on Saturday, leaving behind a legacy of introducing bluegrass music to a wider audience.

Dean Webb was 81. Living in the Branson area, the Independence-born man was the mandolin player for the Dillards, a notable bluegrass band that landed a starring role on "The Andy Griffith Show."

Born in 1937, Webb grew up in a family of musicians, according to a report in BluegrassToday.com, and quickly learned the instrument so that he could play alongside his cousins.

Through the early '60s he played with the Ozark Mountain Boys and Lonnie Hoopers, according to the report, and performed regularly in concert and on television around Springfield and Joplin. In 1962, he joined with brothers Doug and Rodney Dillard and Mitch Jayne in Salem. The quartet became the Dillards, and after a long, cross-country trip in an old Cadillac, they found themselves ensconced in a folk-rock movement.

A chance advertisement in Variety led to the band performing on "The Andy Griffith Show," said Ronnie Ellis, a longtime friend of Webb's and a Kentucky statehouse reporter for CNHI.

"Variety put out a blurb about how the band signed a record contract, and Andy Griffith saw it," Ellis said. "He was looking at a script that called for hillbilly boys playing music, so he had them come by
Webb was a virtuoso player, Ellis said. He wore the mandolin a little bit differently than most players, keeping the strap around a shoulder instead of looped around his neck, for a distinctive physical style.

"I heard someone say he held a mandolin like a machine gun," Ellis said. "He was lightning quick, incredibly fast, precise, clean and clear. That's the way he played. He had long fingers, so he didn't have to slide his arm up and down."

Performing as the Darlings, the band appeared in six episodes. The music recorded under the band's real name became much more influential, inspiring the likes of Don Henley, Ringo Starr and others, Ellis said. Webb's singing and arranging were used by the Byrds for their first hit, "Mr. Tambourine Man," and Webb is credited as the writer of "The Old Home Place," a bluegrass standard, according to the BluegrassToday.com report.

The band recorded 15 studio albums between 1963 and 2006. Most notable was 1968's "Wheatstraw Suite," an experimental album that broke all sorts of bluegrass rules with its orchestral arrangements, electric instruments and traditional rhythms, setting the stage for today's form of country rock. A song on that album, "The Biggest Whatever," features the voice of Joplin fiddler Howe Teague, Ellis said.

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Subject Author Date
Here's the Dillards on the Andy Griffith ShowAs "The Darlings"Thursday, July 05, 12:32:51pm
I don't know how you managed to find this one. (NT)R.I.PThursday, July 05, 08:20:06pm

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