Album:Fishin' In The Dark: The Best Of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
In all their history, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (NGDB) scored their only top ten pop hit with this 1970 cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles. Most of the time they record country, bluegrass and folk. Some say they are a mirror image of The Byrds with NGDB more steeped in country. They were formed in Long Beach, CA in 1966. Jeff Hanna and Bruce Kunkel performed together and they joined jam sessions at McCabe's Guitar Shop with Ralph Barr, Les Thompson, Jimmie Fadden and Jackson Browne. NGDB started as a jug band. Browne soon left to go solo. He was replaced by John McEuen and his older brother William McEuen became the band manager and he got them a deal with Liberty Records. Their debut album was released in 1967. The single Buy Me For The Rain reached #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. This got them on The Tonight Show and other TV shows. When their second album Ricochet didn't do well, Kunkel wanted to go electric and record original songs. He left when that didn't go over well and he was replaced by Chris Darrow. When their next couple of albums didn't do well, NGDB split up after appearing in the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon. They reformed with William McEuen taking over as producer. And Jimmy Ibbotson replaced Darrow. The 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy was a mix of country, bluegrass and folk. Mr. Bojangles was a surprise hit single. It reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written and first recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker. Hanna heard the song on the radio and suggested to Ibbotson that NGDB should record it. Ibbotson was already familiar with the song. The hit single allowed NGDB to record what they want and not have to be too commercial. This comp from Rhino covers their entire history. The other NGDB album worth getting is Will The Circle Be Unbroken which features a who's who of country and bluegrass legends. After Ibbotson left in 1976, they called themselves The Dirt Band for a few years. And then they restored the full name in 1982. McEuen was replaced by Eagles founding member Bernie Leadon in 1986. He left in 1988. By that time, Ibbotson returned. McEuen returned in 2001. Original members Hanna, McEuen and Fadden are still part of NGDB. Bob Carpenter has been a member since 1977. They last recorded on their own label in 2009. But they still tour. Here's Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performing Mt. Bojangles at Church Street Station in Orlando, FL. Hanna is lead singer, McEuen plays mandolin and drummer Fadden plays the harmonica solo.