Longtime friends John Hartford and brothers Doug and Rodney Dillard joined together, in the late '70s to create one of country music's most eclectic bands, Dillard-Hartford-Dillard. While bluegrass served as their primary foundation, the group filtered in rock, reggae, and country influences.
The first album by Dillard-Hartford-Dillard, Glitter Grass from the Nashwood Hollyville Strings, released in 1977, showcased their songwriting with genre-twisting original tunes. Songs like "High Dad in the Morning," "California Is Nicer Than You," and "Artificial Limitations" were balanced by Hartford's tongue-in-jowl ditty, "Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown." Their second album, Permanent Wave, released three years later, featured bluegrass-tinged renditions of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day," the Coasters' "Yakety Yak," Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on Reggae Woman," and Don Reno's "Country Boy Rock and Roll."
New York-born and St. Louis-raised Hartford was reaching the peak of his career when he helped to form Dillard-Hartford-Dillard. The composer of the 1967 hit, "Gentle on My Mind," made popular by Glen Campbell, he had completed a string of groundbreaking solo albums that was capped by winning a Grammy with his 1976 solo outing, Mark Twang.
Although the trio had had a loyal following in the early '60s, and had appeared several times as the Darling Family on the Andy Griffith Show, Doug and Rodney had separated by 1967. While Rodney and Hartford continued to perform, with banjo player Herb Pederson replacing Doug, the latter went on to pioneer country-rock as part of the duo, Dillard & Clark, which he formed with Gene Clark of the Byrds. ~ Craig Harris