01 August 2016

Don Parmley, 1933-2016

More sad news from Bluegrass Today: Don Parmley, banjo-player and one of the most influential figures in the development of bluegrass in the western USA, has died at the age of 82. Born in Kentucky, he went as a young married man to California and in 1962 was a founder member of the Golden State Boys, renamed 'The Hillmen' when Chris Hillman joined them. He also played all the banjo parts on the 'Beverley Hillbillies' TV soundtrack, apart from the theme song.

In 1974 Don formed the Bluegrass Cardinals, who released their outstanding first LP early in 1976 (still available on CD), followed this with a series of other fine albums, and moved to Virginia later in the 1970s. Their example did a great deal to restate the vitality of bluegrass in the traditional mode. Don retired in 1997; his heritage has been maintained by his son David (one of the original Cardinals at the age of 15), leading the bands Continental Divide and Cardinal Tradition.

BIB editor's note: The current bass player for Cardinal Tradition is multi-instrumentalist and singer Ron Spears, whom fans here will remember as mandolinist with the Special Consensus some years back.

Update 15 Sept.: This major feature on Don Parmley by Richard Thompson appeared on Bluegrass Today today.

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