The Dillards’ secret weapon: In step with mandolin maestro Dean Webb

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The Dillards —acoustic bassist-emcee Mitch Jayne, lead singer-guitarist Rodney Dillard, big brother-banjoist Doug Dillard, and mandolinist Dean Webb — pose inside a gray school bus set out to pasture on the Melody Ranch property of original singing cowboy Gene Autry in 1967. Photography by Henry Diltz / Corbis via Getty Images
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Dean Webb, best known as the original mandolin player in ’60s bluegrass band the Dillards, poses with wife Sandy Webb on October 31, 2010, in Alley Springs, Missouri, while in town to perform a memorial tribute show honoring fellow Dillard Mitch Jayne. Image courtesy of Sandy Webb

The Dean Webb Interview

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An unidentified crew member, Rodney Dillard, Dean Webb, Mitch Jayne and Doug Dillard wait patiently during filming of “The Darlings Are Coming” episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” on February 4, 1963. Maggie Peterson Mancuso [love crazy Charlene Darling] and Denver Pyle [patriarch Briscoe Darling] sit inside the truck. Image Credit: RetroWeb Archives / Bart Boatwright / Gary Wedemeyer
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Mitch Jayne, Doug Dillard, Dean Webb, and Rodney Dillard of the Dillards say hello (or is goodbye?) in “The Darling Fortune,” the Darling Family’s final appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show,” broadcast on October 17, 1966. Image Credit: CBS Television Studios / screengrab
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Twenty-nine-year-old mandolinist Dean Webb of the Dillards is captured in a scene from “The Darling Fortune,” the bluegrass outfit’s final appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show” broadcast on October 17, 1966. Image Credit: CBS Television Studios / screengrab
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The Dillards — Dean Webb on top, Mitch Jayne at far right, Doug Dillard in the passenger seat, and younger brother Rodney Dillard behind the steering wheel — pose in a dilapidated truck on the Melody Ranch property of original singing cowboy Gene Autry in 1967. Photography by Henry Diltz / Corbis via Getty Images
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Dillards co-founder Doug Dillard and Byrds co-founder Gene Clark embrace the hippie ethos as they stand beside a rustic wooden barn circa 1969. Their two records are well worth investigating for country rock aficionados. Nearly 40 years later Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and lilting chanteuse Alison Krauss delivered an aching rendition of Clark’s “Through the Morning, Through the Night” on their Grammy-winning “Raising Sand” album produced by T-Bone Burnett. Image Credit: A&M Records
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Mitch Jayne, Rodney Dillard, Dean Webb, and Herb Pedersen (background) represent the Dillards for the desert-inspired cover of “Wheatstraw Suite,” the country rock band’s most critically acclaimed album released circa December 14, 1968. Image Credit: eBay user RecordsByMail / Elektra Records
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A green branch protrudes from a tree root on the sepia-toned cover of “Roots and Branches,” the sixth album released by the Dillards. The rock-influenced LP debuted June 10, 1972, reaching a career high of No. 79 POP. Standing are Dean Webb, banjoist Billy Ray Latham, and drummer Paul York. Seated are lead singer Rodney Dillard and bassist Mitch Jayne. Photography by Ed Caraeff / Design by David Larkham
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Mandolinist Dean Webb, banjoist Billy Ray Latham, and lead singer-guitarist Rodney Dillard of the Dillards are captured during a European tour stop circa 1973. The progressive country rockers were knee deep in their “Roots and Branches” / “Tribute to the American Duck” electrified albums phase, respectively. Photography by David Redfern / Getty Images
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Rodney Dillard, Dean Webb, Cindi Knight Griffith, husband Andy Griffith, Maggie Peterson Mancuso, Mitch Jayne, and Doug Dillard pose during February 1986 on the Los Olivos, California, set of “Return to Mayberry,” the highest rated TV movie of the 1985–1986 season. Image Credit: Banjo Hangout
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John Hartford of “Gentle on My Mind” fame opts for a bluegrass riff in this New York candid from 1972. Photography by Jim McGuire / Nashville Portraits
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Dean Webb ably tackles a soaring mandolin lick while Larry Sifford keeps the rhythmic foundation on doghouse bass during a June 2, 2012, gig by the Missouri Boatride bluegrass band in Kansas City at the International Hunter Education Association Conference. Photography by Scott Tichenor / Flickr
Watch the Dillards perform their rollicking, humorous ode to creatures that go bump in the night. “The Biggest Whatever” was released in December 1968 on the groundbreaking “Wheatstraw Suite” country rock album. Left to right are Dean Webb, Mitch Jayne, Herb Pedersen (replaced founding member Doug Dillard), and Rodney Dillard. Photography by Bob Clevenger; Music Credit: Warner Music Group; Video Credit: Courtesy of Jeremy Roberts

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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