There aren’t many areas of bluegrass music that have not sooner or later been touched by the work of mandolin participant Roland White. Brother of fellow bluegrass legend turned nation rocker Clarence White, an unique member of the Kentucky Colonels, a henchman of Bill Monroe in his Bluegrass Boys, a founding member of Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass, to not point out his later years in The Country Gazette and the well-known Nashville Bluegrass Band, Roland White’s mandolin has appeared all through the bluegrass catalogue.
Roland White was born on April 23, 1938 in Madawaska, Maine, on the very tip of the state, right into a household of musicians of French-Canadian descent. They moved to Burbank, California in 1955 and some years later the three brothers Roland, Eric and Clarence have been performing commonly collectively underneath the title The Country Boys. Although they began out primarily as a folk-oriented string band, it was Roland who bought their fingers on the Bill Monroe recordings that precipitated the trio to select up their rhythm and shift in the direction of bluegrass.
Being primarily based in Los Angeles made The Country Boys distinctive, influential and in the end basic to the emergence of bluegrass on the West Coast. They appeared in movies, appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, and in 1963 carried out underneath the title The Kentucky Colonels and set fireplace to the people scene in California, fueled by Roland’s mandolin and Clarence’s flatpicking.
During The Kentucky Colonels’ heyday, Roland took two years off to serve within the US Army and really missed out on showing on the band’s first album. Nonetheless, quite a few reside recordings later in her profession have led bluegrass followers and fellow gamers to admire Roland White’s mandolin fashion, which was closely influenced by Bill Monroe.
As it seems, when the Kentucky Colonels disbanded circa 1967, Roland White continued to work for Monroe after the bluegrass father was booked for a week-long residency in LA and his band bought caught with a broken-down bus in Texas. While searching for bluegrass pickers within the space, Roland carried out. Apparently Monroe was good at enjoying the mandolin, so Roland performed guitar and received a spot with the Bluegrass Boys, the place he stayed for 3 years. The job additionally facilitated Roland White’s transfer from California to Nashville.
When Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ breakup in 1969 resonated within the bluegrass world, Roland White noticed a chance to hop again onto the mandolin and play for Lester Flatt’s The Nashville Grass. His time in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys had served White nicely, perfecting his mandolin expertise after sharing the stage with Monroe on so many nights.
By now each Roland White and his youthful brother Clarence had cast their very own legendary names – Clarence was a member of the Byrds and helped develop the B-Bender guitar, which was in a position to mimic the tones of a metal guitar performed from one shoulder. looped instrument. (Note: Marty Stuart nonetheless owns and performs Clarence’s iconic B-Bender guitar). But Clarence was able to return to his roots, so he fashioned a band with Roland referred to as The White Brothers.
The White Brothers could have been one of the crucial legendary pairings in nation music historical past. Unfortunately, the undertaking was canceled when Clarence White was killed in a automobile accident by a drunk driver in July 1973. The brother duo’s reside recordings present simply how a lot each gamers have developed and mastered their devices since their time collectively in The Colonels of Kentucky. The demise of Gram Parsons two months later dealt one other blow to the guts of the California nation scene, but additionally helped affect the formation of one other legendary bluegrass band, The Country Gazette.
Born from the ashes of The Flying Burrito Brothers by violinist Byron Berline and bassist/guitarist Roger Bush (Roland taught Bush how one can play bass), The Country Gazette grew to become a staple of bluegrass music for about 20 years. Roland White left The Country Gazette in 1989 to affix the generally titled however terribly vital Nashville Bluegrass Band, which has flocked to a few of Music City’s largest pickers like Stuart Duncan. The group additionally obtained quite a few Grammy nominations through the years.
Roland White noticed bluegrass develop on either side of the Americas. He watched it evolve from an offshoot of folks and classic right into a full-fledged style of its personal. Roland witnessed bluegrass influencing standard people rock music, nation and nation rock. And Roland White was deeply influential in popularizing the bluegrass medium itself, on each the East and West Coasts and each level in between.
Roland White died on Friday April 1st. He was 83 years outdated.