They learned the songs they heard their father and uncles play. He played the guitar first, but soon took up the mandolin. Eric played banjo, Clarence the guitar, and Joanne sang and played bass. They played at family gatherings and occasionally in local Grange Halls in the early ‘50s.
Soon after their family moved to Burbank, California they won a radio station talent contest, and were hired by a television station, and performed as the Country Boys. They learned of Bill Monroe and began to emulate him. They met Billy Ray Latham in the late ‘50s, and formed the Kentucky Colonels with him. They played at the Ash Grove in Hollywood.
In the early 60s they added several musicians to their band. Roger Bush began playing Bass, Leroy McNees dobro, Bobby Stone and Scott Stoneman played fiddle. Clarence met Doc Watson at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, and they recorded their first album, Appalachian Swing. Roland joined Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in 1967, and Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass in 1969.
Roland and his brothers formed the New Kentucky Colonels in 1973. After recovering from an accident in which his brother, Clarence, was killed, Roland joined Roger Bush and Alan Munde’s Country Gazette. In 1989 he began playing with the NBB and incorporating jazz into his music. Other members of the band are fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Pat Enright, Gene Libbea on bass and Alan O’Bryant on banjo.
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