The Country Gentlemen were a bluegrass band that originated during the 1950s in the area of Washington, DC, United States, and recorded and toured with various members until the death in 2004 of Charlie Waller, one of the group's founders who in its later years served as the group's "focal point and leader."
"The Classic" line-up of the Country Gentlemen from 1960-64, consisting of co-founders Charlie Waller on guitar and John Duffey on mandolin, with Eddie Adcock on banjo and Tom Gray on bass, were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1996.
The band started on July 4, 1957 as a replacement group for Buzz Busby's Bayou Boys when several members of that band were injured in a car accident. The band's original members were Charlie Waller on guitar and lead vocals, John Duffey on mandolin and tenor vocals, Bill Emerson on banjo and baritone vocals, and Larry Lahey on bass. After a few early changes, the band settled into a somewhat permanent lineup consisting of Waller, Duffey, Eddie Adcock on banjo, and Tom Gray on bass.
First classic lineup breakup:
They toured both the bluegrass and folk circuits during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1964, Tom Gray left the group to pursue on his career as National Geographic cartographer. Until end of sixties, Ed Ferris, Ed McGlothlin and Bill Yates were the bass players for the group. In 1969, just as the band was scheduled to tour Japan, John Duffey quit, citing his fear of flying. Jimmy Gaudreau was brought in on mandolin. Eddie Adcock departed the band in 1970 and moved to California to create a band Clinton Special.
Charlie Waller assembled the "Second classic lineup" of the Country Gentlemen soon after, with Bill Emerson returning on banjo, Doyle Lawson on mandolin, Bill Yates on bass and Ricky Skaggs on fiddle. The band also switched labels from Rebel to Vanguard. Emerson left again to join the Navy after one album, and was replaced by James Bailey. Jerry Douglas joined the band during the summer of 1973 and in 1974, after graduating from high school in May 1974, stayed with the band playing the Dobro at that time. He continued with the band until June 1975. He rejoined the band in May 1978 and was with the band until December 1978.
Death of Charlie Waller:
In the band's later years Charlie Waller served as the group's "focal point and leader" until his death in August 2004. His son Randy Waller, whose voice is very similar to his father's, continues to play as "Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen".