" 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 Virtuoso
December 14, 1998 (Number 15)
Substitute editor for this issue: Sandy Rothman
Copyright by Bluegrass Workshop "North Field" 1998
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Back issues of the "CLARENCE WHITE CHRONICLES"
can be downloaded at the following web site:
No part of this newsletter can be reprinted in any format
without the editor's permission.
Thank you so much for your great concern! During the last few months,
three old friends of mine and a Bay Area bluegrass musician have joined
in this list. I really appreciate especially two of them: Butch Waller,
founder of and mandolin player for the Bay Area's longest-lived
bluegrass band HIGH COUNTRY, and one of my old corresponding friends
Steve Wisner, a music writer from Maple Park, Illinois. Sandy Rothman
first introduced them both to me. He is always so helpful and kind
enough to make the CWC circle worldwide and to help keep burning the
flame of our passion for Clarence White and his amazing guitar style.
(Many thanks for your help, Sandy!)
In this issue we can read some interesting stories (never told before)
e-mailed personally to me from Steve Wisner, whose stories are always
minutely proven. Sandy recently wrote me the following about Steve:
>"He's a friendly guy and I trust him. We've corresponded for years but
>I've only met him one time, for less than one hour. Did I ever tell you
>that he drove all the way to Chicago's O'Hare Airport very early in the
>morning one time, about 6 AM, when I was there for a short layover a few
>years ago? It was something like a 2-hour drive for Steve to come there,
>but he wanted to meet me, so he did it. We had coffee and talked
>furiously for less than an hour, I think, and that was it! But we've had
>many telephone calls and, of course, letters and emails since then..."
A nice story. Thanks, Sandy. And also thanks for your continuous posting,
Steve. And, of course, thanks also Butch Waller for your old memories, and
to everyone who posted for this issue. Hope everyone will enjoy this issue!
Here is an additional note. I asked Sandy to be a "pinch-hitter" editor for
me as I could have no time to work for it in this most busy month of the
end of the year. Not only is December the busiest month of the year in Japan,
but we have been taking care of my wife's mother while she is recovering from
an illness. Sandy kindly agreed to take over the editing work from me this
one time. As his first job as temporary editor, he asked me to write about a
recent party ("CWC Summit Meeting") I attended with some of my friends in
Japan who have been encouraging me for years.
Lastly please send a big round of applause to my most respected close friend
Sandy Rothman. Without his cooperation, this special holiday season's issue
couldn't be published. I also express my great appreciation to each of those
who wrote us their precious memories of Clarence White. Really appreciate
all of you. Hope each of you enjoy this special issue, and also wish you
have a joyful holiday season.
Sub. Editor's note: I'm more than happy to help out. I've been in Japan
in December when the year is drawing to a close and all businesses are
very energetically working to complete all transactions and settle every
outstanding debt. Christmas has become a celebration in Japan, but the
primary holiday is New Year's, when the wheels of industry grind to a halt
for about three days -- the only time this happens in the course of a
Japanese year. Etsuo-san has a one-man business, distributing home and
office supplies, and his wife also works to support their livelihood with
two teenage children. If there's to be any applause, let's direct it to
the person who has done more than anybody to keep Clarence's flame burning
brightly and to connect so many people around the world who love his music
Just recently I met Stan Wolfe in person, after each of us posted Colonels
stories on these CWC pages. We actually drove down to the site of the old
Cabale in west Berkeley and looked around the back and saw the door that led
to the little room where the band camped while they played the club for that
special week in 1964. I doubt this would have ever happened had it not been
for Etsuo and his never-ending song of love for Clarence (and all of us).
Arigato and Season's Greetings. Happy Old Year, and soon, Happy New Year.
Date: December 3, 1998
From: Etsuo Eito
To: Sandy Rothman
Subject: The CWC *SUMMIT* Party
Here is the report you asked me to write about the party I mentioned to you,
for CWC #15!
-- First Time All Together --
Before I began to publish an English edition of the CWC online newsletter
through the Internet, I had been publishing the Japanese edition CWC in
paper magazine format irregularly since back in 1989 together with several
serious fans of Clarence White. More over ten years before we had come to
know one another through a Japanese monthly bluegrass magazine called
"MoonShiner" published by B.O.M. Service, the only bluegrass company run by
the famous Toshio & Saburo Watanabe brothers of BLUEGRASS 45, a Japanese
bluegrass band that toured around in the USA back in 1972 and recorded some
LPs on the Rebel label. Anyway, we corresponded, talked on the long-distance
phone call so frequently, and of course traded tapes, too. Sometimes we met
each other somewhere at a bluegrass festival or a live club; however, it was
the first time that we all gathered together for the CWC SUMMIT party held
on November 30 at one of our member's house in Takasago City which is about
20 miles east of my hometown Himeji.
Finally our first meeting came true after many years. My friend's room is so
commodious and gorgeous with various high quality sound equipments and many
instruments. He prepared this room of his for our meeting. He served us
delicious foods and drinks. Two guys drove up there 150 miles all the way
from Hiroshima, and another guy came up from Kyoto, about 70 miles, and I
just drove only 20 miles and arrived there last as I was caught up in
Saturday evening traffic jam. Everybody was waiting for me. Soon the party
began with shouting "Kampai!" ("Cheers!"), holding up a glass of beer.
Many delicious foods were served such as various kinds of "nigiri-sushi,"and
several dishes of "hors d'oeuvre" and of course beer and Japanese sake.We
really enjoyed this special dinner with talking about the CWC newsletter
in this English edition (they are not my staff but still main supporting
members), and they gave a big round of applause to my effort. And also we
talked about Sierra's new video release, wondering if we could get our
copies in this month. One guy from Hiroshima whose name is Koji Kihara told
us about some very interesting information he had heard from Gary Paxton. He
told us that Gary said that he still owns a lot of Clarence White's master
tapes and he has a plan to release them on CD.
The guy from Kyoto, whose name is Kenji Taira, is the oldest among us, but
he looks much younger than me (45 yrs.). Anyway, it was he who had lent me
his several Colonels tapes more than ten years ago. He is not only a
generous person but also such a surprising guy as he finally made up a copy
model (even every small part) of Parsons-White Stringbender equipment by
himself. Playability of his Stringbender Telecaster is quite good. You'll be
satisfied. Guaranteed! Oh,what an incredible skillful guy! He has a great
craftsmanship, indeed. He just made it for his fun and never for profit. He
carried this amazing handmade Stringbender Telecaster with him that night.
He also brought a rare Clarence White model acoustic guitar built by Headway
Guitar Company in Japan. It sounds so great and a fine guitar to play, with
a suitable "action."
The owner of the room where we spent these joyful hours is one of my close
friends, Akihisa Fujimoto, who has so many instruments such as an old D-18,
D-28, Santa Cruz Tony Rice model, and mandolin, banjo, dobro, and etc. So
we began the jam session all together. Another guy from Hiroshima named
Harumi Gotoh is not only a banjo player, but also was a good guitar player.
He played impressive guitar that night. His guitar sounded like Clarence
with his trademark loud and rough and syncopated tone and timing with
routine phrases and licks that Clarence White used to play.
Joyful hours were so rapidly gone by while we didn't notice. It was almost
01:00 am when the party was over. Then I drove back to Himeji where I live,
running on the quiet Route 2 in the early hours of Sunday morning with happy
feeling in my mind.
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 10:47:11 -0700 (PDT)
To: Etsuo Eito
Subject: Re: CWC online newsletter #14
Thank you for the latest editions on the CWC newsletter. It is great that
Sandy and others have related the positive stories about Clarence. Thank God
there are so few bad stories if any. Clarence lived a positive life both in
playing and in other things.
The only comments I would like to make for the record. In regard to Alan's
interview, Clarence, Susie and the kids had sold their home in Leona Valley
(southwest of Lancaster, CA) in early 1973 and had moved into a home in
Topanga Canyon by that time. Carl Jackson could tell you wonderful stories
about the place I am sure as he was a frequent visitor at the new home as he
lived "over the hill" from them while he was playing with Glen Campbell
in 1973. It was a terrific mountain type house, very wooded and quiet.
Regarding Yoko Ito, in the L.A.Times of that week, a brief story on the
accident was printed along with her name and address. However, there was
no mention that Clarence White was a recording artist, rock star, you name
it -- nothing. He was just listed as a resident of Topanga Canyon. Ms. Ito
received only a one-year suspended sentence and her driver's license taken
away, as related to me by Eddie Tickner, Clarence's manager and friend.
This was prior to "Mothers Against Drunk Drivers -- MADD) and since then
such an incident would be cause for more severe punishment. Her nationality
was never a cause of concern or of any interest to us here. A year later
Roland along with Roger Bush, Byron Berline, and Alan Munde toured Japan as
the Country Gazette and they were treated like gods! Roland and Roger still
talk about that positive feeling they got from the Japanese fans!
But back to the good stuff. The music from the Cabale and other SF venues
appears on our "Livin' In The Past" CD. Having had the rare opportunity to
hear just about everything ever recorded by the Colonels, I truly believe
their second home was the San Francisco Bay Area and the great friends they
had up there -- Sandy Rothman, Jerry Garcia, Herb Pedersen, Butch Waller,
Campbell Coe, Scott Hambly, the list goes on and on. I know for a fact
Clarence was looking forward to playing in the Bay Area again in late
1973. What a party that would have been!
Clarence's connection to Bill Monroe was even closer. In April or was it
May 1967, Bill and the Bluegrass Boys were playing the Ash Grove in L.A.
as were the reformed "The White Brothers and the Kentucky Colonels"
(Roland, Clarence, Eric, Bob Warford, Dennis Morris). I believe Doug Green
was going to leave Bill's band and Bill offered the job opening to Clarence.
Clarence was flattered but by then he was already getting substantial work
as a session player (thanks in part to James Burton) and was getting into
electric guitar with "Nashville West." He felt Roland would be better for
the job, he knew that Roland knew the repertoire better than anyone plus
could sing and play guitar like Bill would want. Roland took the job, moved
to Nashville, Clarence remained in LA doing studio work, playing in
"Nashville West," and by July/August 1968 was a member of the Byrds.
One last thing, Michelle and I are thinking of instead of waiting for the
planned Clarence White Box Set to be completed in some far off distant
future, we would release the 20-minute video of "Bob Baxter's Guitar
Workshop with Clarence White" just by itself. How does this strike everyone?
I don't know if there are enough buyers out there who would make it worth
the effort? Selling price is a big factor but so is the expense of
production and manufacturing. The Muleskinner Video has sold less than 4,000
units in the six years of it being in release. Not a barn burning by any
means but certainly worth it musically.
Thanks again for spreading the good news about Clarence,
you're a dear friend.
(The above letter was coincidentally posted on Bill Monroe's memorial birthday.
Bill would have been 87 on 9/13/98. -- Sub. ed.)
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 09:16:20 -0700 (PDT)
To: Etsuo Eito
Subject: Re^2: CWC online newsletter #14
Sure, you can reprint the email. Especially I would like to know what the
hard-core fans feel about releasing the Guitar Workshop video. Sorry, I don't
have Carl's email address (he's in Nashville) but I am sure someone on your
Regarding that Burrito bootleg. First, whoever did it used our photo of Gram
and Chris from the GP Book for the back tray card. It is pretty obvious that
whoever just copied it right out of the book. The cover photo is from the A&M
photo sessions when Bernie Leadon joined the band, taken by Jim McCrary,
who was sort of a staff photographer at A&M. I have most of the original
color transparencies of that photo session.
It is also of interest how that recording got out. Chris Hillman actually
had the tape, he made a copy for Sid Griffin, who made a copy for me -- I
never gave it out to anyone. Either Sid made more copies for other people or
Chris may have made more copies but I doubt it. I got mine back in the early
'80s! So I guess it finally got out! I hate to think what the quality sounds
like all these generations down.
This kind of stuff really bugs me since labels like Sierra and others try to
do the right thing, pay rights, but most of the time find it too expensive
to put things out egitimately while these jokers just go ahead and bootleg.
If people only knew of all the original recordings I have in the vault of
more of all these artists, most of them never before heard, I probably coul
retire from the income. The world is not fair but hey there are no
guarantees in life.
I hope all is well with you.
From: "D J Anderson"
To: "Etsuo Eito"
Subject: Making a Clarence White box set...ideas please
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 12:41:34 -0400
As the world's leading Clarence White fan, you will be interested in this
and I am interested in your input.
There are those of us who want to see a Clarence White box set become
Below is a sample of my inexperienced thinking....
Also, there is supposed to be a lot of stuff out there about Clarence,
including some video of him in the Sixties on the Baxter show, and other
events. Probably, most of the stuff out is copyrighted and that means six
cents per CD per copyrighted song. That would be .06 x 50 copyrighted
songs (low estimate) equal three bucks per box set. Let's say they make
500 box sets = 2000 CDs = $1500 right off. 2000 CDs times production
costs of, let's guess a buck each, = $2000 + $1500 = $3500, plus time in
salary/labor of Sierra, plus liner notes and art work = @ a buck per =
2000 or total $5500. Let's double that to cover whatever we figured wrong
or left out to $10,500, then round that off to 10 grand for easy
speaking. Let's let them double their money as profit, too, so they need
to make ten grand. Now, I won't take anything out for loss, 'cause we are
going to buy all five hundred box sets. They need ten thousand cash to
produce and get back, let's see, 500 sets at 100 bucks equals $50,000
that we are going to spend, they get back $30,000 beyond what we figure
they need. That covers all the things we didn't think of, like taxes and
other loss. We aren't sending any freebies out to the deejays. Why
couldn't we do it? Why wouldn't they do it? I just don't think we could
give them the money to finance the thing, and still pay a hundred bucks.
We could generate our own liner notes...don't even wrap the
things...Something is wrong here, and it is most likely that we can't
muster up the 50,000 bucks. I think I could sell fifty copies around here,
but I know I could sell five, so I could say five. That means there has to
be a hundred of me out there, who can and will put up the money. That isn't
too scary a number, but sales are a funny thing, especially up front sales,
before the merchandise is delivered.
Soon, we will be able to get any cut ever recorded for a buck each over
the internet. Then we will look like pioneers in covered wagons doing it
Let's keep thinking about it.
Please tell me what you think of the above idea. Be as honest and
straightforward as possible.
How many do you think you could pre-sell????
dj of raleigh
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 15:19:45 EDT
Subject: Re: CWC online newsletter #14
Don't know if you're interested but Gram Parsons and C. White
were/are forever brothers and you might find this place interesting
Click here for
Gram's Place Bed/Breakfast & Music
here for BBonLine
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 98 13:36:59 -0700
To: "Etsuo Eito"
Thank you so much for sending me the edition of The Chronicles, I enjoyed
it very much. I have vague recollections of that night at the Cabale (wish
I could remember who the young lady was!). I do remember pestering Roland
until he agreed to meet with me the next day and show me some stuff on the
mandolin. The Pine Valley Boys lived in LA for nine months or so in 1963-64
and had some contact with the Colonels at that time as well. I will try to
remember more and email you in the future, but I did want to thank you for
bringing back memories from that magical time.
(The above is another post on Bill Monroe's birthday. -- Sub. ed.)
Subject: Re: Memories
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 98 12:41:47 -0700
To: "Etsuo Eito"
Thank you for your reply, I will try to fill you in a little on the history
of the Pine Valley Boys as you requested. Herb Pedersen and I met in about
the 6th grade in grammar school and also attended high school together. Back
then we both played guitar (acoustic) and sang Everly Brothers and Buddy
Holly songs until the early '60s when folk music grabbed our attention and
we formed a group with Rich Conley called the Westport Singers in high
school. When we were introduced to bluegrass music through various musician
playing around Berkeley at that time (one of whom was Sandy Rothman), we
were hooked. Herb already played folk style banjo and, being the "natural"
that he is, picked up Scruggs style in short order. I started playing the
mandolin, the learning of which was a somewhat longer process, and Rich
stayed with the guitar. We also acquired a bass player by the name of Dale
Hollis. We played at a number of local venues including the Offstage in San
Jose and the Tangent in Palo Alto.
Late in 1962 we moved to Los Angeles and lived there for 9 months trying to
"make it" in the music business. During this period we did some travelling
with a couple of folk music tours which included several acts, among them,
the Pine Valley Boys, as we had come to be called. One of these tours
performed at Carnegie Hall, which certainly stands out as a highlight of
that time for me.
The other major event was getting to hang out with the Kentucky Colonels.
The four of us were all around 18 years old at the time and quite naive
about bluegrass music and music in general, so being able to spend some
time with them was our first real bluegrass education.
We first met the Colonels at a sort of one-day bluegrass festival (although
that was not what it was called then) that featured a number of LA groups
including, I think, the Golden State Boys and the Scottsville Squirrel
Barkers. I also remember ice, who had taken sandpaper to the tops of
their guitars to make them look like Clarence's beat-up old D-28. Anyway,
the Colonels invited us to a rehearsal at one point and I remember spending
some time (though not a lot) with them over the next several months, and
their being quite generous with their time and encouragement. Roland was
still in the army then and I recall Clarence playing the hell out of Rawhide
on his F-4 at shows.
Toward the end of this nine months, Rich announced that he was quitting the
band, so the Pine Valley Boys made plans to return to the Bay Area. We
knew David Nelson from playing at the Tangent in Palo Alto, and discovered
just before we left that he was in LA going to school. We got together and
picked with him a few times, and the three of us (Herb, David, and myself)
made plans to continue when we were all back home. After a few months we did,
in fact, start playing together and at some point got Geoff Levin to play
bass. I think 1964-65 would have been the period where the Pine Valley Boys
"blossomed" into a full bluegrass band.
We had heard about a fiddler by the name of Richard Greene who lived in
Los Angeles, so I called him up one day and asked him if he might like to
do some playing. He said that he would, so for the next year or so Richard
would fly up now and then for the weekend and we would rehearse and play a
gig. We played most often at a folk club called the Shelter in San Jose. We
had played at the Offstage (also in San Jose) a number of times, but I think
by the time that the band was really in full swing it had closed. We also
used to play at a place called the Jabberwock in Berkeley. The chronology a
this point is pretty jumbled in my mind.
Herb had begun playing with Vern and Ray (which is its own story, they made
some wonderful music) and went with them to Nashville eventually ('65 or 66),
Richard went on to play with Bill Monroe, and David found a niche with the
New Riders of the Purple Sage a little later on. I did not play much for
a few years (a few gigs with Sandy), and started High Country in 1968
(we celebrated our 30-year anniversary last August).
I saw Herb in Berkeley when he was in town with the Laurel Canyon Ramblers
a few weeks ago and David Nelson was also there. We discussed a possible
Pine Valley Boys reunion; whether or not anything will come of it, I don't
know, but it would be fun.
I hope some of this is helpful, I apologise for my fading memory, if you
have any questions I would be glad to try to answer them.
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