The Chris Barber Website Message Board

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Joost Ferwerda
I'm a banjo-player for 44 years. In those days Eddie Smith was my hero. Eddie died in 1996. Is that correct? I'm going to write a small paper about Eddie as inspirator. I like to know
'all' about the period after Eddie left Chris: bands, other profession(s), family etc. Please inform me. Many thanks
Ed Jackson
I don't know the answer to your question about when Eddie died, but I agree on how great a player he was. I hope you will share your article on the website for the rest of us to read.
John Feakes
I worked with Eddie for some years, printing the Daily Express.
He had stood his banjo in the corner and flatly refused to play it.
I never found out why.
I lost track of Eddie when I came to Australia in 1972 but did run into a chap who used to play at our local jazz club in London.
He advised that Eddie was playing again but I was never able to contact him.
I was shocked to read your statement that he had died in 1996.
Best wishes, John 
Ben Smith
Sorry if this is completely irrelevant since its been quite some time since you asked but, he died in 92 and hes in a crypt in majorca near somewhere near Palma (a nice shady spot in the sun), his wife sold thier villa a few years after his death to be closer to her 2 sons in england, David still has his old banjo (in need of a new bridge afaik) I have Marys contact details somewhere if you wanted to ask her personally..
Ben Smith
Sorry for digging up a dead thread..
Joost Ferwerda
A sign of Life!!! What a surprise! Ben, you are one of Eddie's sons? Brother of David?
My interest in Eddie is still relevant. Still a big fan. Listen very regularly to his wonderful
banjo-playing. There is no better Chris Barberband than the band with Eddie. He inspired
me like no other!
If Mary agree, I like to ask her some questions about Eddie.

Ben, thanks a lot and kind regards,

Joost Ferwerda 
Peter Austin
I  do agree with you Joost. That rhythm section with the two Smithies and the very great Graham Burbidge was the best of all. They really drove the band along. Eddie is great on the Berlin album behind Ottilie especially and again on the Blues Book album. He was a moody looking bloke though!!!

I remember reading in Jazz News that he had died in Mallorca. Only Dick left of that three now. Is he still running his pub does anyone know?
a.j. barth
Arie Lighart, former banjoplayer in the Dutch Swing College Band wrote his memories, published by Gerard Bielderman. He was a friend of Eddy Smith and wrote some interesting lines about this friendship
Andreas Wandfluh
@ a.j.barth re Eddie Smith

I am preparing (scanning) further photos form earlier days that I've got from Shirley Halcox and I have a few ones from Eddie. Would it be possible that you could send us the lines from Arje Lighthard? (I have had a long chat with Arie in the late sixties in Bern Switzerland and still keeping his autograph)

you can send it to

Many thanks

Andreas Wandfluh
Co-Webmaster Chris Barber Bands
Zürich / Switzerland
Joost Ferwerda
Today, exact 50 years ago: Chris Barber's Jazzband at the Kurhaus, Scheveningen (Holland). Of course Chris spoke about the assassination on John F. Kennedy, 2 days before. My two most important memories: Chris announced a solo piece on trombone.The audience wanted only one number and started shouting and banging: "SWEET SUE, SWEET SUE!!! Unfortunately Chris played "Up a lazy River", slow and easy. During one of Eddie's solo's the bridge flipped on the banjohead. Unmoved he put the bridge upright again and played on. That's it. It was an unforgetable concert.
Hajo Kahlen
I am a banjoplayer of 70 years and played in 6-piece Trad Bands for more than 50 years. My hero was Eddie Smith too and i always tried and try to play like him. Does anybody know what kind of banjo he played, especially that one which missed some screws? I am quite sure that he played it during the Sportpalast Berlin Concert and later on the Barber Folk Style Album. Was it an english or an american model, or where else was it manufactured? Is a photo existing which shows details?
Best greetings from Germany
Hajo Kahlen
Joost Ferwerda
Hi Hajo,

Eddie played mainly on a plectrum-banjo: Bacon G-major (read:Chris Barber Club Booklet Vol.7 nr.5). Early 60's Eddie started to play on a (american) Kay-plectrum-banjo (Artist Model). See the LP-cover: Dixieland with Chris Barber, 1962 & 1963.

Greetings form Holland,

Joost Ferwerda 
Joost Ferwerda
If you like to see Eddie in action: look at You tube: Chris Barber Jazzband - Paris 1965.
Two excellent solo´s of Eddie: Eh La Bas and Sweet Georgia Brown.


Joost Ferwerda
Tom Stuip
Hi Ben,
I started playing tenor banjo in the 50ies, but when I heard Eddie, I switched to plectrum as fast as I could. That was the holy grail of trad banjo rhythm playing for me. I have been playing professionally for over 45 years now and am still an admirer of Eddie's playing.
I saw the Barber band live in Rotterdam, in the Riviera Hal, in the late fifties. Eddie played Take Your Pick as a feature, dedicated it to Arle Lighthart. I still have a photo of the  banjo he played, and it looks the same as the one he played at the Paris concert. It looks like a 12" body, with a 20 fret plectrum neck. On earlier recordings I have seen him play what looked like a 13" five-string banjo with the 5th string removed. It's these oversized rims (11" is the standard) that partly gave Eddie his characteristic sound.
You wrote that you know where Eddie's banjo('s) is. Can you give me a contact?
I am attaching the photo I have from the Rotterdam concert. There also he seemed to have problems keeping up his bridge. typical banjo players: always tinkering to get the perfect sound.
Thanks for any lead you can give me.Eddie Smith.jpeg 

Tom Stuip
PS: Ben, you can reach me through my website:, or via

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