During a traumatic year for ex-Byrds, pioneering country-rock guitarist Clarence White died just ahead of the legendary Gram Parsons (September 1973) and three months after Scotty Stoneman, a colleague in White’s early bluegrass band The Kentucky Colonels.
White – born into a musical family – joined the latter aged just ten; the group, first known as The Country Boys, had been started by White’s older brother Roland in 1962. After a solo spell – during which time he cut an album on Bakersfield – and a stint with the influential Nashville West,
White and his Fender were invited by Roger McGuinn to join The Byrds to replace the departed Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, playing on the untitled album of 1968 The Byrds were not, however, the force they had been in their previous incarnation and, as the group began to wind down, White worked with Randy Newman and Joe Cocker.
McGuinn disbanded The Byrds three years later, after seismic line-up changes. Continuing his session work into the seventies, the tireless White (spoken of in some quarters in the hushed tones normally reserved for Jimi Hendrix) formed the ‘supergroup’ Muleskinner, rejoined The Kentucky Colonels and, in 1973, was working on another solo album.
After a performance in Lancaster, California, White was stacking equipment into his van when he was hit by the truck of a drunk female driver; he died later from a stomach haemorrhage. White was buried in California’s Joshua Memorial Park on 19 July; Gram Parsons and others sang an impromptu rendition of ‘Farther Along’ – a favourite country-gospel standard recorded twice by White – at his graveside.
The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars - Jeremy Simmonds, 2nd Edition, Chicago Review Press, Incorporated, 2012, page 64
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