I last saw Eddie play when the band was here in Aberdeen in May 1963. On the following evening they were playing in Glasgow, and after THAT concert, Eddie's banjo was stolen ! This was a phenomenal instrument, and apparently it was one of only two to have ever been made. It was a five-string, but without the fifth string. Years later, Johnnie McCallum pointed out to me that all of Chris's bands banjos had been five-string minus the fifth, but tuned to the first four strings of a guitar, which certainly explains why I could never get mine to sound like Eddie's (!), and aligns with a Lonnie Donegan radio interview account of how he came to play banjo in the 1954 band.
So glad to find this message board discussing Eddie Smith. Eddie was always my favourite banjo player with a very distinctive style and tone, and I well remember him playing Take Your Pick at a concert in Bradford in the early sixties. I would love to know how he tuned his banjo as it certainly doesn't sound like guitar tuning, where the 4th string would be D. I have heard C, even B-flat and possibly lower! Anyone any ideas? He could certainly turn out a well-crafted and inventive solo, and his contribution to the band was enormous. Hope he's entertaining the angels in that big jazz band in the sky.
I am an amateur banjo player.
It was Alistair Macdonald in Glasgow who persuaded me 57 years ago to switch from Tenor to Plectrum. Long story short, now in retirement I am involved once again with this instrument. I now have only an entry-level model of Oakridge, possibly made in Korea or somewhere like that, just getting by. Eddie Smith is my great musical hero. I do agree with an earlier correspondent on this site that Eddie was a dour sort of fellow, rarely a smile. But what a banjo player! There are plinky-plonkers around but nothing can touch the driving to-the-point style of the late Eddie Smith. I acknowledge too the great banjo work of Lonnie Donegan. The recorded work of Chris Barber and the musicians around him will live forever.