The Eddie Peabody Story
By Lowell H. Schreyer
This book consolidates and expands research from my earlier biographical series on Eddie Peabody for BMG magazine in 1965 and the FIGA magazine of the Fretted Instrument Guild of America in the 1990s. Banjoists have long argued whether Peabody was an expert banjoist or a clever showman or both. Whatever the magic in Peabody's presentation of the banjo was, it kept him popular with the public for half a century. It also served to ignite that first spark of inspiration that caused many of his listeners to take up the instrument. He did more than any other performer to keep interest in America's instrument alive during a long period when tastes in popular music had almost rendered it obsolete. Taking up the banjo at a point in history when it had developed from a five-string finger plucked instrument to a four-string variation played with a flat pick, Peabody pioneered techniques that became the basics for many of the plectrum banjo players that followed. Although he was not generally regarded as a jazz musician, the rhythms and improvisations in his treatment of popular tunes reflected the underlying spirit of the Jazz Age in which he developed his unique style. The story of his life covers half a century of show business through one little banjo player who adapted to the many changes ranging from vaudeville and cylinder records to television and stereo hi fi. We thank the many individuals who helped me tell his story, especially my wife, Margaret, whose computer skills made this self-published effort possible. This book is dedicated to her with love.