" C L A R E N C E W H I T E C H R O N I C L E S "
The Online Newsletter of A Guitar Virtuso
February 23, 1997 (Number 1.)
Edited by Etsuo Eito
Copyright by Bluegrass Workshop "North Field" 1997
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<< Content of This Issue >>
"Memories of Clarence White" Rosie Evans
(Courtesy of LeRoy Mack McNees)
The following story is written by Rosie Evans, who was the president of the
fan club of The Kentucky Colonels back in early 1960's. My good friend LeRoy
Mack McNees asked her to write something for my magazine (The Clarence White
Chronicles) kindly enough. I must apologize to LeRoy and Rosie Evans for
having not put out in public this open letter remembering Clarence White for
almost two and a half years because of my laziness.
"Memories of Clarence White & The Kentucky Colonels"
by Rosie Evans
Asking me to write my memories of Clarence put this "old" mind in a dither.
For me, that was another life time. But, thinking back is good for me (I
think). It is impossible to single out Clarence from the rest of the group.
Also, when I think of Clarence I recall his parents, sisters and the whole
White family. And there were the "caretakers". The chauffeurs, the groupies,
etc. Clarence was a part of everyone he knew. In spite of his silence, he
was in touch with life, his family, friends and fans.
We all see each other in different ways, and none of our opinions are the
way we see ourselves. Clarence was deep, smart, quick and witty. Yes,witty.
There was more to Clarence than being a Kentucky Colonel or the best flat
picker in the world. He was unique. I think he would get a kick out of all
the things folks are saying about him. So, here goes..... A few things
recalled by "Rosie".
I saw the "LeBlanc" kids once, on a flat bed truck in a parking lot at a
food market. All I recall was the little girl was cute and a little sullen,
round face boy with a guitar bigger than him. Then we saw the Country Boys
once at a park in Long Beach. I believe it was a Cliffy Stone affair. Then,
in 1959 or 60, this friend drove us nuts talking about the best bluegrass
pickers in the country. Instead we invite them over to play music some Sat.
night. We did, and from that night the Evans family was on the band wagon
with the Country Boys. They were our extended family.
At Ruth Harrell's suggestion, I started the fan club. In order to know what
to do I joined the Elvis fan club. Now starts the fun. Billy Ray had the sex
appeal, or so went the letters. Roland was bluegrass authority, getting mail
from other musicians. Eric had mail saying how they loved the way his voice
blended with his brothers. LeRoy was the sweet one. Clarence had a following
of pickers, little girls and a lot of folks that wanted to see him smile.
I think what I remember most about Clarence, was the way he handled the bad
times. I recall when the group was getting ready to make a tour, and Roland
and Eric had some problems. Eric was staying with us at the time, and I
thought Roland was being mean. Then Clarence told me, "Eric don't want to go,
cause he's in love." I knew that, but it was Clarence who brought it out.
Since Roger was joining the group, Clarence thought it okay if Eric didn't
go. He said the singing was better with Eric in, but Roger would make up for
I guess my best memory of Clarence is when Bobby (Slone) and his fiddle
joined the group. Remember ? Enter Susie! I can still see those kids
silently starting into each other's eyes. Always no matter where they were.
Clarence had just turned sixteen. I can still see Susie in the audience,
Clarence on stage, their eyes on each other. She was his girl. And she loved
Christmas of 1960, Santa Clause brought my son "little Andy" a banjo, and
Clarence told him he was lucky he didn't have a big brother like Roland to
make him get up in the middle of the night to play music. Seems Roland had
gotten Eric and Clarence out of bed many nights, made them go into bathroom
and play music. But, Clarence was there to see that Little Andy learned to
pick, and all of you were there when he went to the Squeakin' Deacon Show.
You were there for the U.S.O. shows and remember the time I booked him at
the veterans hospital ? He knew three songs, there were 300 veterans there
to hear bluegrass music. I called you all came and saved the day. Did I ever
say "Thank You " ?
And it was the Kentucky Colonels that were there to back up the Haphazards.
Little Andy, Larry and Tony Rice brothers, and Butch. It was the Colonels
that helped get them into the Ash Grove and all those other folk places.
Clarence knew that I liked to rub elbows with "Stars". At the Ash Grove, he
would always let me know who was there. At another coffee house he brought
Randy Boone (of the Unginion TV show) over to have a cup of coffee with me.
Coffee was two dollars a cup. I was broke, Randy was broke. Clarence chipped
in a quarter, I dug into my purse, found fifty cents, and Randy came up with
the rest. Now that might not be a big deal to the average person, but
Clarence knew it was to me, and I have never forgotten that cup of coffee.
I recall one night the Colonels were leaving Clarence and Susie's apartment
for an engagement at a club. The parking lot was full of fans that would be
following the Kentucky Colonels to the club. A skinny drifter looking person
approached Roland. They talked for only a few minutes. Then Clarence spoke
to the man. The man was going to stay at Clarence and Susie's apartment
while the rest of us went to the club.There were kids there and I'd promised
to baby sit. Clarence trusted this man, and said I should go to the club
This man was Bob Dylan. The folded dirty paper he showed Roland & Clarence
was the song "Mr.Tambourine Man"..... I believe that was the beginning of
Clarence becoming a Byrd.
Among the good folks that put the Colonels out where the world could enjoy
the best in bluegrass, was Ed Pearl of the Ash Grove, and Joe & Rosie Maphis.
The Kentucky Colonels were playing at the Ash Grove when they got their 1st
motorhome. I think the Colonels were the first one's they took for a ride in
it. The greatest fan was John Kaparakis of Arllington, Virginia. He and
John Delgatto tried to keep the memory of Clarence and all the boys, before
the public. John Kaparakis became a close friend of Clarence and Susie.
There are so many things to tell, but this is getting long. Just know that
there wil never be another Clarence, to win the hearts and admiration the
way he did.
Susie and I kept in touch after Clarence became a Byrd. Before the first
baby, they came out to our house in the desert. Clarence wanted to "rest".
He slept for two days. Susie and I went shopping. She was about five months
pregnet. Little Andy and Clarence played music together and we had such a
nice visit. When they got the new house in the canyon (Topanga Canyon),
Clarence called us on the phone. Wanted us to come see it. But, we never got
out there. When things started getting hectic, Susie called me. She thought
the boys were going to get back together and wanted to start up the fan club
again. So I sent her all the "stuff". But, it wasn't to be.
The last time I saw Clarence was right after their second baby was born.
The last time I saw Susie was at Clarence's funeral. I kept in touch with
his mother until her death (in January 1992), When Susie and their little
boy (Bradley) were killed in a traffic accident, Susie's sister called me on
the phone from Kentucky. They were like my own children. (Almost) The pain
is still there.
No,I do not think of Clarence without thinking of all the Kentucky Colonels,
many fans, the family, the children, and his wife susie. I miss the Kentucky
Colonels. I hope the world will never forget Clarence. Anyone who knew him,
or ever heard him play has been blessed. I love them all... I miss them...
LeRoy, thank you for letting me know I am still a part of that other life,
so long ago. You are very special in my book. Like Clarence, there is a lot
more to LeRoy Mack than "music".
Love to your family
*** End of The Mail ***
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Your Always Kentucky Colonelly,
Etsuo Eito / Himeji,Hyogo, JAPAN
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Clarence White Chronicles 2
Index 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 ,6 ,7 ,8 ,9 ,Ex ,Ex2 ,10 ,11 ,12 ,Rose Maddox,13,14,15 ,16
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