Band Members

Roland Joseph LeBlanc (aka Roland White)

Born: July 9, 1942 in Lewiston , Androscoggin County,Maine Death: June 7, 2012 in Bakersfield , Kern County,California Primary Instrument: Bass Primary Involvement: Leo Joseph LeBlanc (aka Eric White)

Clarence Joseph LeBlanc (aka Clarence White)

Born: June 7, 1944 in Lewiston , Androscoggin County,Maine Death: July 5, 1973 in Palmdale , Los Angeles County,California Primary Instrument: Guitar

LeRoy Mack McNees

Born: September 19, 1940 in Glendale , Los Angeles County,California Primary Instrument: Dobro

Roger Bush

Born: September 16, 1940 in Hollywood , Los Angeles County,California Primary Instrument: Bass

Billy Ray Lathum

Born: January 12, 1938 in Cave City , Independence County,Arkansas Death: August 18, 2018 in Nashville , Davidson County,Tennessee Primary Instrument: Banjo

Composed

Early Influences

  • Family (father and uncles)
  • Bill Monroe
  • Flatt & Scruggs
  • Stanley Brothers
  • Osborne Brothers
  • Reno and Smiley
  • Doc Watson

Led the Way

  • Among the earliest bluegrass bands to operate on the West Coast.
  • Played a major role in defining the guitar as a lead instrument in bluegrass.
  • Gave national exposure to bluegrass by way of appearances on The Andy Griffith Show and The Jerry Lewis Show.
  • Various members appeared later with pivotal groups, including Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, the Byrds, the Dillards, Country Gazette, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
  • IBMA Hall of Fame, 2019

By the Way

  • Billy Ray Lathum once had a San Diego-based group named “BanJovi.”
  • Clarence White’s guitar work first came to East Coast attention on Eric Weissberg and Marshall Brickman’s album, New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass (1963), later re-released as the soundtrack album for the movie Deliverance (1979).
  • Roland White took the job as Bill Monroe’s guitarist after it had been offered to and refused by his brother Clarence.
  • Lester Flatt’s nickname for Roland, “Chi Chi,” thankfully did not stick after he left that band.
  • LeRoy McNees later headed an organization called “Businessmen for Christ” and was the West Coast coordinator for FCCI (Fellowship of Companies for Christ International).

From the Archives

“When I think back on Clarence playing . . . Clarence always played. I think back and the only time I remember him not playing is when my Mother brought him home from the hospital just after he was born.”
Roland White in “Clarence White,” Bluegrass Guitar: Know the Players, Play the Music, 2005.
“We opened it up for bluegrass in folk clubs. Jerry Garcia was one of our groupies. He played bluegrass for a while.”
LeRoy McNees, quoted by Bill Colvard in “‘Country Boy’ Returns to Mayberry,” The Mount Airy News, September 27, 2018.
“They called us from Nashville and said they wanted us to do a bluegrass album. We cut the entire album in just one night, you know, doing live takes. We started about 7:00 one night and finished up about 8:00 the next morning.”
Billy Ray Lathum, quoted by Chris Houchens in “Billy Ray Latham: From Mayberry to Horse Cave,” The Amplifier, January 2009.
close