Co-founder and longtime Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member John McEuen has announced he is leaving the group, effective immediately.

McEuen — who co-founded the group in 1966 and stayed with the band for 20 years before going on hiatus in 1986 and rejoining in 2001 — announced his departure on Friday (Oct. 27), citing "business disagreements and ongoing difference of opinions" as the reason for his exit.

“As a catalyst to my decision, in December 2015, I received confirmation from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Inc. that I was an ‘employee’ — no longer a member of the corporation that I helped to build," McEuen says in a statement. "It has been a great privilege to work alongside the others; together, we made history."

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"After 50 years, the time has come for me to bid adieu to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band stage. I will move forward with great pride in my personal and musical contributions to NGDB and now can fully concentrate on my independent endeavors," McEuen continues. "I have much to do and many more creative ideas to pursue. Because of this relationship, I have more stories than you can shake a pick at. That will come later!”

During his multi-decade tenure with the band, McEuen and original members Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter celebrated multiple hits including "Mr. Bojangles," "Dance Little Jean," "Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper's Dream)" and many more. The group scored numerous Grammy wins over their career, including two in 1990 for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for Will the Circle be Unbroken and Best Bluegrass Album for The Valley Road. 

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