I have seen some rumors that Eric may have died. Anyone else know about this?
Not heard that but Kenny Rogers certainly has.
Mark Johnson just posted that Eric has passed over the rainbow bridge. For those that don't know, Eric recorded the "Dueling Banjos" used in the 1971 movie Deliverance.
Dang man. According to Wikipedia, Eric passed away yesterday, March 22, 2020
The Dueling Banjos album was what inspired me to pick up banjo.
Eric Weissberg was a pure banjo maestro. He wasn’t just bluegrass, folk, country or pop, he did it all. He was an innovator creator. He was one of the first greats I had truly admired and inspired my journey. Surely will be missed but hopefully remembered.
Rest in Peace Eric. And sincere condolences to family and friends….which are many.
and in case some didnt know, it was Eric Weissberg who gave Bluegrass a renewed shot in the arm with his Dueling Banjos in the movie Deliverance .... which still some today think was Earl Scruggs.
From Jim Rooney, as seen on FB.... A really nice tribute:
This afternoon my dear friend Happy traum called to tell me that Eric Weissberg had passed away. Although I knew that Eric had been suffering from dementia for the past 3 or 4 years it still came as a shock. I have known Eric for nearly 60 years! He was barely 20 years old when Bill Keith and I met him back in 1961. He was already a professional musician working with the popular folk group The Tarriers. Eric was one of the first Scruggs style banjo players in New York and Bill Keith was in awe of him. Before long we all became good friends. No trip to New York was complete without Eric taking us to his favorite Chinese restaurant, Sam Wo’s, after a jam session in Washington Square or at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center. Then Eric and fellow Tarrier Marshall Brickman would come up to Cambridge to hang out with Bill and me at the Club 47, jam ‘til all hours and adjourn to my favorite Chinese restaurant The Golden Gate in Boston.
Sometime in the Spring of 1969 I was living in New York, working for the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals, and Izzy Young asked me if Bill Keith and I would do a concert at the Washington Square Church. By this time Bill had taken up the pedal steel in addition to the banjo, and we thought it might be fun to do a split concert of bluegrass and country music. Both of us immediately thought of Eric, who by this time had become one of the top session musicians in New York. He could play banjo and mandolin on some things and electric guitar on others. Eris was up for it and we quickly threw together a couple of sets. On the afternoon of the concert we were rehearsing in the church when Richard Greene poked his head in the door. Richard was fresh from playing fiddle with Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys and was in the process of putting together SeaTrain with Peter Rowan. We invited Richard to join us on the spot. We were so happy with the results that I got in touch with a couple of record labels and before we knew it Warner Bros. Records signed us to do an album. We called ourselves The Blue Velvet Band. Our album “Sweet Moments with The Blue Velvet Band” became one of those underground cult favorites, and Eric, who had played on literally thousands of recording sessions, always said that it was his absolute favorite of all the records he had played on.
Many years later I was playing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival on my own. Many musicians came up to me and were going on about our old album, so much so that I thought it might be time to resurrect the Blue Velvet Band. Richard Greene was not available so the great fiddler from New York, Kenny Kosek jumped in, and the New Blue Velvet Band came into being. Touring all of the major folk festivals in Canada, Europe, Britain, Ireland and the Northeast was when I really got to appreciate what a wonderful person Eric was. He was never down. He wouldn’t let you be down. In addition to that, his playing was never stale, his singing was always full of energy. Audiences loved him, and he loved them.
Travelling with Eric you also became aware that under this carefree exterior was a very talented, well-schooled, totally professional musician of the highest order. He had gone to the High School of Music and Arts in New York (where he met Happy Traum), had learned how to play the banjo from Pete Seeger, studied bass at Julliard—all while a teenager. He could arrange on the spot, which made him much in demand for jingles. The great choral arranger Robert Decormier called on Eric to perform some of his most difficult pieces live. Artists like Judy Collins, John Denver and Art Garfunkle insisted that Eric play on their records and join them on tour. He loved to travel—a lot of it on motorcycle—across America, across Europe—the Rockies, the Alps—he loved it all.
Probably most people identify Eric with “Dueling Banjos” from the movie “Deliverance.” Of course, no one, least of all Eric, knew what a colossal hit that would become. For him it was just another session which he invited his friend Steve Mandel to play guitar on. Eric was always getting his friends in on sessions. He spread a lot of work around. When the record hit, he had to throw a band together fast, so he asked me to do it because he knew I knew a lot of songs that we could do pretty much on the spot. I’ll never forget the night when the record was #1 in the country, we were in Boston. The record company was paying for everything. We could have gone to the fanciest restaurant in town. We had a limo at our disposal. But where did Eric want to go? Jack & Marian’s Delicatessen in Brookline. Had to have some pastrami and matzoh ball soup!
In Woodstock for several years there was a weekly bluegrass session at the Harmony restaurant. Bill Keith did it until his health started to fail and then Eric stepped in. This was not about money or playing to a large audience, it was about playing and singing for the sheer joy of it and the camaraderie. Eric never lost that. Even after he was unable to play, Brian Hollander and the guys from the Harmony would come to Eric and Juliette’s house to have a session. When we could, Happy Traum and I would join them. I would sing many of the songs from the “Sweet Moments” album, and Eric would mouth the words under his breath, always keeping time with his hand or his foot. Sometimes at the end of a song he would let out a big YEAHHH! When I would sing “Hitchiker” a song he had written, he would sometimes ask, “Whose song?” I would say, “Your song. You wrote it.” and he would smile his big smile, “ME?” “Yes, Eric, You.” Every time when I was leaving I would give Eric a big hug and sing in his ear, “I Love You So Much It Hurts Me,” and he’d flash me a big smile. Tonight it really hurts, but Eric’s smile won’t let me stay down. Thanks for that, my friend.
What a huge loss for the bluegrass world. The clarity of his picking is a standard I try to strive to live up to. I didn’t get into bluegrass until 1984 and I am younger than most followers of the traditional players from the early years. I only started playing banjo 2&1/2 years ago. I could only wish to become 1/10 as good in my best day as he was on his worst. He is sadly missed and will be by me for the rest of my life. RIP
RIP Eric, and thank you.
I saw him with "Eric Weissberg and Deliverance" at the legendary Massey Hall, Toronto, on the bill with Sandy Denny and Randy Newman. One can only wonder about any off-stage musical moments.
Another musical giant sadly missed. Condolences to family and friends.
I am sure sad to hear this. EW was my first role model for 3-finger playing. And what a lovely tribute from Jim Rooney.
RIP Eric. I first remember seeing his name on the back cover of Ian & Sylvia albums as the bass player. When DB came out I used to wear it out on barroom juke boxes. Also had the “Baroque and on the Street” album , Eric playing Vivaldi stuff on banjo. What a talent.
Earlier in this century, Eric Weissberg wrote an article, published in Bluegrass Unlimited as I recall, recounting his role in recording Dueling Banjos for the movie Deliverance, as well as noting that Elektra Records had omitted authorship credit to Earl Scruggs for his tunes that were included on the seminal album New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass, by Weissberg and Brickman. Warner Brothers of course later re-released the album as the theme from Deliverance, again without crediting Scruggs where appropriate. Does anyone have a copy of Eric's article that could be posted on BHO? it seems to me that he also posted a digital copy of it somewhere, perhaps on bgrass-l, but I can't find it. The article is important and highlights the sometimes unsavory practices of record companies.
I think Eric would like this beautiful tune by Pam Gadd
All the Old Men are Gone
Written by Pam Gadd
All the old men in my life are gone
Cold tractors wait to plow
Tobacco pipes forever have burned out
Worn out walking sticks are layed to rest
Like callused hands across their chests
No longer holding on
For all the old men are gone
Dusty hats still hang upon their nails
In tribute to the sweated brows
And thousand plowed rows all paved over now
Brogans sit behind forgotten doors
Seems they could almost walk the floor
Shoes that once left footprints I walked on
But all the old men are gone
Gone to Heaven gone to Glory they’ve gone home
Gone to be with their deal loved ones
Who have waited for so long
What I’d give to sit upon the knee of my dear
Old John or Uncle Jack… He was my favorite one
But all the old men are gone
All the old men in my life are gone
And with them gone the hugs and laughs
No more treasured stories of the past
Things are mighty quiet on the porch
Even the rocking chair don’t creak no more
But I’m sure proud to carry on
Since all the old men are gone
Edited by - Sheenjack on 03/23/2020 12:24:42
WOW! I interviewed him for the Earl Scruggs bio (book) I published in 2017 (Earl Scruggs: Banjo Icon). I have over 3.5 hours of digital recordings for the book. How very sad! What a very cool man! R.I. P.
Very sorry to hear this.
What a loss for the banjo world. He was a true inspiration for me, and countless others. His music will live on but he will be missed. Prayers for his family.
I first became aware of Eric Weissberg as a result of hearing an album of a live performance of the Tarriers. The album belonged to a college room mate from New Jersey. In the performance, they introduced Eric and announced that he was going to play the instrumental part of the love death duet from Tristan and Isolde, which elicited a few chuckles from the audience. My room mate then told me that was exactly what he did play. After I heard it, I had to break the news to my room mate that what he really played was a medley of Scruggs instrumentals.
I wore out the New Dimensions In Banjo And Bluegrass record. He was a talented musician who could play just about anything with strings on it. I would have liked to have met him.
Yeah, I just learned about EW’s passing from Tony Trishka’s FB page. He also posted this great photo of EW that I’m using now for my avatar....RIP to my idol that I never met, but was fortunate to exchange a few emails with over the years. I still remember how shocked and amazed I was when received a message from an eBay member commenting on an Ome banjo I listed and described as the model of banjo used on the Dueling Banjos track. This member reached out and respectfully corrected my information (he wasn’t playing an Ome until later) and it turned out to be my hero, Eric Weissberg!!....how cool was that!
Edited by - DIV on 03/24/2020 07:18:20
“New Dimensions” is still fresh nearly 60 years later. I am surprised no one has mentioned Clarence White’s role - if you haven’t heard this record shame on you!
“Blue Velvet Band” is also quite durable. Eric’s “Hitchhiker” is a lesson in baritone lead singing as well as just a fine, fine song.
Eric and Marshall Brickman drew me in. I think it is fair to say that they gave bluegrass banjo a needed lift.
Here's a nice tribute to Eric by Dave Hinckley, a friend of mine and formerly a music critic with the N.Y. Daily News.
My two tributes: Two close friends are reunited...
I checked into my hotel after a LONG night on the rails, completely worn out. I just briefly logged on here to see what was going on...excitedly clicked on this topic....and was instantly “Blown Away” by the first post. And then I gasped and was in utter disbelief as I read the posts that followed.
I am truly saddened to hear of Eric’s passing. I actually felt pain and grief as I read about it last night, which is significant of how important he was to me and countless others...I’d never met him or even corresponded with him...but he touched a part of our lives. He is influential in my banjo journey and life, and I feel like I lost a friend...or a dad even....I loved his playing and who he was as a man...so this is a hard one to choke down.
I am pleased to know that he is not suffering any longer though, Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease.
'Fret work' 9 min
'Mom passed away' 47 min
'Tabledit' 5 hrs
'Good Tuesday Morning' 8 hrs
'SULLIVAN VINTAGE 35 BANJO' 10 hrs
'Grover pancake tuners ' 11 hrs