The Country Gentlemen were a bluegrass band that originated during the 1950s in the area of Washington, D.C., 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."
They toured both the bluegrass and folk circuits during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1964, Tom Gray left the group to pursue on hisCAREER 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. Doyle Lawson went to Japan and played the mandolin and sung on the live recorded album for the groups' first trip to Japan.
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.
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".
The Country Gentlemen play music ranging from traditional bluegrass to pop, sometimes adapting music from other genres to their bluegrass style. They also borrowed from the folk genre with songs such as Gordon Lightfoot's "Redwood Hill" and Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans."
Several of the band’s songs ("Two Little Boys," "Bringing Mary Home," "New Freedom Bell," "Matterhorn," "Fox on the Run," "Legend of the Rebel Soldier," and many others) have become bluegrass standards.
In 2008, Adcock and Gray, two members of the "Classic" Country Gentlemen Hall of Honor lineup, together with former member Gaudreau and Waller's son Randy, combined in 2008 to record as the Country Gentlemen Reunion Band.