Mitch Jayne passes

Mitch Jayne smokes his pipe as one of the DarlinsBorn 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.

The Dillards being inducted into the IBMA Hall of FameLast September (2009) The Dillards, including Mitch, were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor, and performed at the IBMA Award Show.

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.

  • The bluegrass community has lost one of its best
    entertainers. RIP Mitch.
    Listen to the story, and my 1973 recording, of one of
    the Dillards’ unrecorded songs. You’ll hear Mitch in his typical intro, then Fred Bartenstein reading Mitch’s 2007 response to hearing the song.

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  • StewartE

    The Dillards were a big factor in getting me into bluegrass music, even though it was 25 years after their heyday when I saw them on their 1989 reunion tour. Mitch was first and foremost a storyteller, and that came out in both his MC work and the lyrics he wrote. If he’d done nothing more than write “Old Home Place”, that alone would guarantee his place in bluegrass music history. Farewell and thank you, Mitch.

  • I enjoyed Mitch Jayne’s music and story telling. I remember him very well when I recorded the videos in Denmark in 1999. I got tears in my eyes from laughing about his wonderful story telling. To see more of my videos like the one published here, go to my “Northern Bluegrass” channel on Youtube. I will always remember you Mitch. Peter Noorman.(The Netherlands)

  • DanShipp

    Mitch Jayne had a great way with words – simple, descriptive and always funny. “Stiffer than a woodpecker’s lip,” describing the remains of a relative who’d passed away sitting in an outhouse. And my favorite, describing the path to the outhouse on a snowy day: “Slicker than deer guts on a doorknob.” RIP

  • HarryM

    This evening’s broadcast of Seldom Heard Music will feature a tribute to Mitch Jayne. Mike Smith has put together a wonderful presentation of interviews with Dean Webb and Mitch Jayne, too. Mike lived in Salem, MO and has been a good friend of all the Dillards for many years.

    Tune in for a special tribute to Mitch Jayne – and music by the Dillards. Also, some Dillards songs performed by such artists as Ricky Skaggs, Jack Lawrence, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. And a couple of tunes from the Andy Griffith Show.

    Seldom Heard Music is a weekly radio show featuring bluegrass and acoustic music. Mike Smith has hosted the show since August, 1982, and Harry Moore has been the co-host since the fall of 2002. We cover Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas with bluegrass and other acoustic music every Saturday night, broadcasting from the campus of Missouri State University on KSMU Springfield MO 91.1 and HD1, KSMS Branson/Point Lookout MO 90.5 and HD1, KSMW West Plains MO 90.3 with repeaters at Mountain Grove MO 88.7 Joplin MO 98.9 and Neosho MO 103.7. Also, KSMU streams live on We are an NPR station.

    There is also an article about Mitch Jayne on – read the article and listen to the feature that was broadcast on KSMU.

    Thanks for listening.

    Harry – Member IBMA

  • HarryM

    Whoops – didn’t mention the time – Seldom Heard Music airs every Saturday night from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.