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Apr 15, 2024 - 5:59:51 AM
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11585 posts since 7/1/2006

A mutual friend has informed me that Ben Eldridge (of the Seldom Scene) passed away last night at home, at 9:40pm. I was informed a week ago of his health and out of respect for the family and our mutual friend, did not share that news with anyone.

Ben was one of my favorite banjo pickers.

RIP Ben. Godspeed.

Edited by - banjoy on 04/15/2024 06:02:48

Apr 15, 2024 - 6:11:45 AM

Bart Veerman


5708 posts since 1/5/2005
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Ouch! Ben was an amazing player and a real nice guy.

Apr 15, 2024 - 6:15:32 AM

15228 posts since 6/2/2008

Thank you sharing this sad news.

Ben was truly one of the all-time greats.

It was my tremendous good luck that the summer of 1972 when I was first learning banjo is also when the Seldom Scene was playing every week at the Red Fox Inn in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, for no cover. I was there every week, soaking up what I could. I did not catch a single lick of Ben's, but his playing demonstrated to me the banjo's role in an ensemble.

Ben will long be remembered for his contributions to melodic style and his chromatic ideas. But he was also a master of rolling backup.

Apr 15, 2024 - 6:42:50 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


30135 posts since 8/3/2003

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:05:28 AM
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4833 posts since 3/28/2008

This feels like the end of an era. Ben's sensitive, intelligent, creative banjo work was just as important a part of the Seldom Scene's sound as John Duffey's soaring tenor vocals or Tom Gray's propulsive bass lines. In his quiet way, he was one of the giants of bluegrass music.

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:17:21 AM

5439 posts since 11/20/2004

Loved his style and learned from listening to his unique playing. He was a great one and will be missed.

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:36:20 AM



286 posts since 1/22/2005

Ben was one of my all time favorites. He will be greatly missed. Prayers to the family.

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:43:51 AM

451 posts since 4/26/2007

Ben Eldridge was as big a contribution to the Seldom Scene sound as the stellar Duffey/Starling vocals and the ethereal dobro work of Mike Auldridge. Ben's ability to move between the signature Scene softer material to the wide-open grass they also mastered was inspiring.

And no one, I mean NO ONE, had tone like Ben. It was 100% recognizable and 100% him. Full, clangy, fat. The way it should be, haha.

RIP to a legend.

Apr 15, 2024 - 8:22:56 AM

bill t


355 posts since 12/14/2012

Really sorry to hear this news. One of my very favorite banjo players!
I feel fortunate to have meant him and talked with him years back.

Apr 15, 2024 - 8:37:23 AM



3063 posts since 11/3/2016

Ran into Ben the first time at Berryville Va in the early 70's wandering around in the dark pickers area & not sure if he was part of any band at the time ? . He liked my new ODE & asked if it was a pre war --- cause he couldn't see it Ha ! We chatted for awhile & went on our different ways .After that we saw him many times at the Gettysburg fest w/ the Scene .
We certainly will miss & feel honored to have known him & his music .

Edited by - heavy5 on 04/15/2024 08:49:28

Apr 15, 2024 - 8:38:17 AM



72046 posts since 10/5/2013

So sad,, a real inspiration. Rest in Peace, Ben.

Apr 15, 2024 - 8:47:04 AM
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463 posts since 7/24/2021

I love Ben’s version of You don’t know my mind . Totally different than the Crowe break everyone seems to use in that song . An absolute giant in the banjo world !

Apr 15, 2024 - 11:28:54 AM

3792 posts since 4/5/2006

There are not enough superlatives to adequately describe the talents Ben brought to the party. Yet for all of that, Ben thought himself just the average guy. We lost a giant. Condolences to friends & family. R.I.P. Ben. Till we meet again.

Apr 15, 2024 - 11:44:06 AM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by Will Frady

I love Ben’s version of You don’t know my mind . Totally different than the Crowe break everyone seems to use in that song . An absolute giant in the banjo world !

So true. Like all the banjo players of his generation, Ben listened to a lot of Earl Scruggs. But since he liked several kinds of music, his head was full of ideas, and he never (so it seems) felt the need to play anything exactly the way someone else played it.

Listen to Ben's episode of the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast.  Recorded last year. Ben's wife, Barbara, participates in the interview, to help out when Ben was already having trouble remembering.

Also treat yourself to this three-part interview series from 2012 with bluegrass radio host Katy Daley.

Apr 15, 2024 - 12:14:11 PM
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4228 posts since 7/12/2006

With Ben it never seemed to be about him. It was all about the band.

Apr 15, 2024 - 1:40:08 PM
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New Zealand

46 posts since 3/10/2006

When we first arrived in DC in 1981, Ben opened his house to me and my wife. We stayed with him for a couple of weeks until we were able to find a job and a place of our own, and were totally overwhelmed by his generosity.

Over the next 6 years he was a terrific friend and mentor to me, always willing to share his banjo licks and explain the nuances of his playing. Scruggs, Scruggs and then Scruggs - he was totally in awe of Earl Scruggs yet always managed to add his own unique interpretation.

Week after week on Thursday nights at the Birchmere he played his heart out and loved every minute of it.

Very sad to hear of his passing and he will be sorely missed.

Apr 15, 2024 - 2:12:37 PM
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4496 posts since 6/15/2005

Apr 15, 2024 - 3:06:36 PM



2802 posts since 7/18/2007

That hits hard. He was always approachable and a genuine nice guy and one of the most exciting and innovative players of his time. Rest in Peace Ben. You gave us so many musical memories.

Edited by - banjoez on 04/15/2024 15:07:28

Apr 15, 2024 - 3:34:29 PM


New Zealand

12042 posts since 6/29/2003

Ben was on my mind recently. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the phone in 2018. I called him to ask a question on banjo tuning for one of the SS songs. He was one of my favourite players.

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:10:29 PM

Andy B


88 posts since 5/26/2007

RIP Ben Eldridge. I saw Ben many times at the Birchmere. He was always one of my favorites on the banjo, going back to the pre-Scene recordings he made with Cliff Waldron around 1970. His playing on the Waldron LP “Right On” is some of his most incendiary work. And with the Seldom Scene, he showed how the banjo could fit beautifully in a primarily vocal band. Ben was a masterful musician and he will be missed.

Apr 16, 2024 - 3:07:09 AM



28 posts since 12/7/2012

Hmm. Two very nice responses from New Zealand banjo players. RIP Ben - you were an inspiration.

I’m stranded in NZ for a month due to a lung injury from a car crash and can’t fly back to Canada. On the South Island in Christchurch though so I can’t meet up with you guys. I think I’ll have to relearn how to play by the time I get home.

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:53:28 AM
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4496 posts since 6/15/2005

All that's been said about Ben's wonderful playing is true, without a doubt, but this always comes to mind  when I think of him and the Seldom Scene. Don't take your eyes off him!

Of course, it goes without saying that his playing here fits the song and the band just perfectly..

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 04/16/2024 07:58:13

Apr 16, 2024 - 8:09:39 AM

2934 posts since 9/18/2010

One of my favorites. Great picker and a genuine nice fellow.
From Roanoke in the mid/late '70s.


Apr 16, 2024 - 10:50:08 AM

1 posts since 1/27/2020

Ben's book of biographical details and tabs of licks and leads is well worth it. It helps me listen to him better, understand how other great players influenced him, and better appreciate his own blending of style and drive. I am fortunate to have seen him half a dozen times in the 80s with the Scene at the Birchmere. Thanks, all, for sharing links and pics. What a great player and seemingly wonderful guy.

Apr 16, 2024 - 2:40:56 PM

79683 posts since 5/9/2007

Ben influenced me in combining the old with the new bluegrass.
I got to see him once at Thomas Point Beach and coaxed an autograph from him on a banjo head.
My cousin worked in D.C. for years and he and his wife saw them play many times down there.

r.i.p. Ben Eldridge.

Apr 18, 2024 - 4:31:43 PM
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DP in Canada


7 posts since 11/21/2003

Forty odd years ago, I was fresh out of University of Toronto and had only been with my employer for three months, when they sent me on my first business trip, to a conference in Arlington. I had also been taking banjo lessons for roughly 6 months, and had become quite enamoured with Seldom Scene.

I took an early morning walk, wandering throughout the area surrounding the hotel, and through pure serendipity, stumbled upon the Birchmere. It was even more fortuitous that the sign out front said that SS would be appearing that evening.

Unaccompanied, I made my way back that night, but was made to feel right at home when management squeezed me in to a table of kindly, like-minded folks, right at the foot of the stage. Or, more correctly, right at the feet of Mr. Eldridge. It was a fantastic, enchanted evening that will be with me forever and always.

I am genuinely saddened to hear of the passing of this wonderfully talented, accomplished and entertaining gentleman.

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