Sunday, August 21, 2016

Don Parmley, a bluegrass legend, has passed

Don Parmley
You hear him play the banjo every time you watch one of America's classic TV comedies. He brought to his band Chris Hillman, who became an original member of the Byrds. He was well known in bluegrass music circles, but not so much beyond. His name was Don Parmley, and after he died July 30 at 82, country-music radio legend Eddie Stubbs gave the eulogy in Parmley's hometown of Monticello, Ky.

Parmley moved from his native Southern Kentucky to Southern California in 1956, where he "met Flatt and Scruggs and had an opportunity to play the banjo for 'The Beverly Hillbillies'," reports the Wayne County Outlook. "For nine consecutive seasons, when one scene segued into the next, the banjo interlude that viewers heard came from Parmley." He had helped start the Golden State Boys, which became the Hillmen after Parmley invited Hillman and his mandolin to join them. In 1969, with his son David, he formed the Bluegrass Cardinals, recognizing Kentucky's state bird and the mascot of his old Wayne County High School.

"The Bluegrass Cardinals rose very quickly to become a very important product of their time, the late 1970's and all through the 80's," said Stubbs, announcer for WSM in Nashville and its Grand Ole Opry. "Their standard of excellence on record and in person was second to none. There was a lot of complexity within the Bluegrass Cardinals' music, made in three-chord songs they were doing, but it was that complexity within the simplicity that made that music so great." He said the International Bluegrass Music Association should put them in its hall of fame. "What Don and David Parmley did, and their vision and the music that they made, was extraordinary."

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