Born July 5, 1930, Mitch Jayne passed away Monday, August 2, 2010 in Columbia, MO, after being diagnosed with cancer only recently.
In the 1960’s, The Dillards were introduced to a larger American audience as the Darlin’ Family on the Andy Griffith Show. Mitch Jayne served as the band’s bass player, emcee, and author of many of the band’s songs.
In addition to his duties in the band, Mitch was also a popular author having written several books, including: Home Grown Stories and Home Fried Lies, Old Fish Hawk, and most recently, Fiddler’s Ghost. He also worked as a radio DJ, school teacher, historian, and storyteller.
Often seen wearing his bear-claw necklace and sporting a pipe, Mitch Jayne was a mountain man from the Ozark hills of Missouri. The European Bluegrass Blog remembers a time when Mitch put his mountain man credentials on display for the international bluegrass community.
As far as I know, Mitch Jayne is the only award presenter at the International Bluegrass Awards Show to ever open the winner’s envelope with a large Bowie hunting knife — then flip it into the wooden oak podium, causing the microphone to emit a loud “THOOMP” over the theater sound system.
Mitch was famous for his humor, which often appeared as he emcee’d Dillard’s shows. He sometimes introduced the band by saying,
Hi, We’re the Dillards and we’re all hillbillies. I thought I better tell you that because you probably thought we were the Budapest String Quartet.
Mitch rarely minced words, he just told you what he thought in “creative” ways. Commenting on popular folk musician Bob Dylan, Mitch said Dylan’s voice sounded like
A dog with its leg caught on barbed wire.
If you never had the chance to hear Mitch spin a yarn, then you missed one our national treasures! Watch the video below to get a taste of Mitch’s humor, as he introduces the Dillard’s tune, Dooley.