Eric Weissberg

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Eric Weissberg
Born (1939-08-16) August 16, 1939 (age 75)
Origin New York
Genres Country, bluegrass
Instruments Banjo, steel guitar
Years active 1958–present
Labels Elektra, Warner Bros.
Associated acts The Tarriers
Website ericweissberg.com

Eric Weissberg (born August 16, 1939) is an American banjo player and multi-instrumentalist, best known for playing "Dueling Banjos" in the movie Deliverance. He was involved in a lawsuit with the song's composer.

Biography[edit]

Eric Weissberg went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, then the Juilliard School of Music. He joined an early version of the Greenbriar Boys (1958–59), but left before they made any recordings. He then joined The Tarriers, replacing Erik Darling. The Tarriers had recently had a hit with "Banana Boat Song", though Harry Belafonte had the bigger hit soon afterwards. At first Weissberg was taken on as a string-bass player but the group soon made use of his multi-instrumental talents as banjo player, fiddler, guitarist, mandolin player and singer. At this time he was still a student at Juilliard. His first album with The Tarriers, Tell The World About This (1960) has a much rougher feel than the smoothly-produced sound of The Weavers or The Kingston Trio. In 1964 he had to do one year of duty with the National Guard, but on returning, the group re-formed. In 1965 the group accompanied Judy Collins on a tour of Poland and Russia, but disbanded soon after. Judy Collins was sufficiently impressed to use him as a session musician on Fifth Album (1965) and several later albums.

Commercially, interest in acoustic folk groups was waning, so Weissberg began his successful career as a session musician, playing on albums by The Clancy Brothers, Doc Watson, Melanie, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright III, Talking Heads, Tom Paxton, Jim Croce, Art Garfunkel, John Denver, Ronnie Gilbert and others. He is chiefly remembered for the hit single "Dueling Banjos", the theme from the film Deliverance, produced by Joe Boyd and directed by John Boorman. There was also a hit album called Dueling Banjos: From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Deliverance' in 1973, but the album was not all it seemed to be. Back in 1963, Weissberg had recorded an album called New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass with Marshall Brickman (a writer who later received an Oscar for Annie Hall) and Clarence White (who later joined The Byrds.) The 1963 album was dragged out of the archives, and two tracks were removed. In their place was the hit single, and thus a new album was born. One of the original tracks, "Shuckin' The Corn" was later sampled by Beastie Boys.

Weissberg still plays in folk festivals, and is almost as well known for his dobro guitar as for his bluegrass banjo playing. He has also recorded with jazz musicians Herbie Mann and Bob James. In 1998, he joined Richard Thompson and dozens of other folk musicians on Nanci Griffith's album Other Voices Too.

Nowadays, he often tours with Tom Paxton. They often play a variant of "Dueling Banjos" in the set, in addition to Paxton's material.

On February 12, 2009, Weissberg joined the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College orchestra and chorus, along with the Riverside Inspirational Choir and NYC Labor Choir, in honoring Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday at the Riverside Church in New York City. Under the direction of Maurice Peress, they performed Earl Robinson's "The Lonesome Train: A Music Legend for Actors, Folk Singers, Choirs, and Orchestra" in which Weissberg was the banjo player.[1]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions R.I.A.A.[2] Label
US Country US CAN
1963 New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass Elektra
1973 Dueling Banjos 1 1 1 Gold Warner Bros.
Rural Free Delivery 196
1996 Banjo Jamboree: Tradition Series Rykodisc

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions R.I.A.A.[2] Album
US AC US US Country CAN AC CAN CAN Country
1973 "Dueling Banjos" (with Steve Mandell) 1 2 5 1 2 9 Gold Dueling Banjos
"Reuben's Train" 69 71
1975 "Yakety Yak" (with Deliverance) 91 single only

Session recordings[edit]

  • The Boys Won't Leave the Girls Alone (The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Maken, 1962)
  • "Sunny's Gallery of Folk Songs" (Sunny Schwartz, 1963)
  • Fifth Album (Judy Collins, 1965)
  • Live At Newport (1959–1966) (Judy Collins)
  • Ballads From Deep Gap (Doc and Merle Watson, 1967)
  • The Good Book (Melanie, 1971)
  • Poems, Prayers & Promises (John Denver, 1971)
  • Portfolio (Richie Havens, 1973)
  • Rocky Mountain High (John Denver, 1973)
  • True Stories and Other Dreams (Judy Collins, 1973)
  • John Denver's Greatest Hits (John Denver, 1973)
  • Piano Man (Billy Joel, 1973)
  • Blood on the Tracks (Bob Dylan, 1974)
  • Judith (Judy Collins, 1975)
  • Free Beer (Free Beer, 1975)
  • Sing Children Sing: Songs of the United States of America (UNICEF, 1977)
  • Final Exam (Loudon Wainwright III, 1978)
  • Little Creatures (Talking Heads, 1985)
  • Album III (Loudon Wainwright III, 1990)
  • Heroes (Tom Paxton, 1992)
  • Judy Sings Dylan ... Just Like a Woman (Judy Collins, 1993)
  • Shameless (Judy Collins, 1994)
  • Take The Fifth (compilation; Bridget St John, 1995)
  • Other Voices Too (Nanci Griffith, 1998)
  • Live For The Record (Tom Paxton, 1999)
  • Times Like These (Rick Danko, 2000)
  • Live at Wolf Trap (Judy Collins, 2002)
  • Copper: Original Soundtrack (Brian Keane, 2013)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Theriversdechurchny.org
  2. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 338. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 

External links[edit]