Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Dillards' Mitch Jayne Passes...

Mitch Jayne [shown with his wife, Diana] was born on July 05, 1928. He passed away on Monday afternoon, August 2, 2010... just two short weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Mitch is best known as bass player & emcee with "The Dillards". He was also a member of the "Darlin' Family" -- a fictional hillbilly family band on the Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s. As The Dillards bass player, Mitch appeared on 15 albums, for which he wrote many of their better known songs. Mitch Jayne was the host of a popular bluegrass radio show, "Hickory Hollow", in Salem, MO when he invited a local band, the Ozark Mountain Boys, featuring banjo player Doug Dillard and his brother Rodney, to be musical guests. In 1960, Mitch was invited to join Doug & Rodney as their bass player. After teaching himself to play the bass, he accepted the invitation.

Mitch Jayne was also an author, television & radio entertainment writer, teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, radio show host, historian, masterful storyteller, an Ozark Mountain Man, and one of the funniest guys on this Earth.

Mitch is the author of several books. His book "Home Grown Stories and Home Fried Lies" is a favorite. One of his novels, "Old Fish Hawk," was made into a major motion picture. Mitch's last book was "Fiddler's Ghost" (2007). It was written in his own Missourian mountain dialect. The story is full of Mitch's spirit and no doubt contains some of his own mountain life experience.

As far as I know, Mitch Jayne is the only award presenter at the International Bluegrass Awards Show to ever open the winner's envelope with a large Bowie hunting knife -- then flip it into the wooden oak podium, causing the microphone to emit a loud "THOOMP" over the theater sound system.

The Dillards may be the only folk-bluegrass band to ever tour as an opener for Elton John. It was during John's 1972 USA tour. They also traveled on tour with "The Byrds". In addition to the Andy Griffith Show, they also appeared often on other major American television programs: The Merv Griffin Show, The Judy Garland Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, Playboy After Dark, Shindig, Hullabaloo and The Smothers Brothers Show.

The Dillards made many successful tours of Europe and Japan as well. They performed at the 1999 Tonder Festival in Denmark. Possibly their last visit to Europe. Click on the link to view videos of Mitch and The Dillards.

The Dillards were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music "Hall of Honor" in September 2009. This photo was taken by Dan Loftin at the 2009 IBMA Awards Show in Nashville, TN.

Mitch Jayne, through his lifetime of friendships, music, books and constant laughter, left our world a much better world.