Clarence White life and biography

Clarence White picture, image, poster

Clarence White biography

Date of birth : 1944-06-07
Date of death : 1973-07-15
Birthplace : Lewiston, Maine, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2012-01-12
Credited as : Guitarist, the Kentucky Colonels, the Byrds

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Clarence White (born Clarence LeBlanc) was a guitar player for Nashville West, The Byrds, Muleskinner, and the Kentucky Colonels. His parents were Acadians from New Brunswick, Canada. The father, Eric LeBlanc, Sr., played fiddle, guitar, banjo and harmonica, and his children, Roland, Eric Jr., Joanne and Clarence took up music at a young age.

Born in Madawaska, Maine, the family followed relatives in 1954 to Burbank, California, and the White children eventually formed a band called the Three Little Country Boys, and soon secured a regular spot on a local radio program, and had attracted the interest of country star, Joe Maphis. In 1958 the band cut their first single, and had become well enough known to land several appearances on the Andy Griffith Show. In late 1962, the Country Boys became the Kentucky Colonels.

Despite their successes, the Colonels were having a harder time making a living playing bluegrass. The folk boom had been staggered by the british invasion in 1964, but the death blow, ironically, was dealt in mid-1965 with the release of Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds and Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan.

While they did attempt to experiment with electric instrumentation, this was only met with indifference from rock audiences and consternation from their folk and country fan base. By October of ‘65, the Colonels dissolved as an ongoing unit after playing their final show on Halloween night.

After the dissolution of the Colonels, White found employment as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, playing on early records of The Monkees, and performed at night with future Byrd Gene Parsons in the group Nashville West. Along with the International Submarine Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers, the band was one of the first to play a seamless blend of country and rock in modern pop music.

White's association with the Byrds began in earnest in 1966, when he contributed his distinctive playing to former member Gene Clark's solo album Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers; he and Gene Parsons briefly joined Clark's touring band shortly thereafter. Striking up an acquaintance with Byrds bassist Chris Hillman (who played mandolin in bluegrass combo The Hillmen before electing to join the rock wave) during the Clark sessions, White contributed twangy lead guitar to two of his songs from the album Younger Than Yesterday: "Time Between" and "The Girl With No Name". Both of the country flavored songs were a bit of a stylistic departure for the group, who until that point had rarely strayed from folk or psychedelic rock.

White was invited back to play on The Byrds' next album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and he also contributed to Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the group's Gram Parsons-led foray into traditional honky-tonk which has become a landmark recording.

By 1972, the pace of the group had slowed considerably; while they would mount two more tours with percussionist Joe Lala on board for the band's farewell show, much of McGuinn's attentions had been diverted to a possible reunion of the original Byrds, contingent on his disbanding of the "other" Byrds. After fulfilling their final obligations in early 1973, the Clarence White-era Byrds broke up.

His final road jaunt was a three-date "country-rock" package tour with the likes of Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and Chris Ethridge. Even though they had presumably been acquainted with one another in the past, Parsons and White would develop a fast friendship after what was by all accounts a very acrimonious re-acquaintance.

White died on July 15, 1973 after being struck by a drunk driver.

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