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Eddie Peabody


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Eddie Peabody (Edwin Ellsworth Peabody, February 19, 1902 - November 7, 1970) was an American banjo player, instrument developer, and musical entertainer whose career spanned five decades. He was the most famous plectrum banjoist of his era.

Born in Reading, Massachusetts, Peabody taught himself to play the violin, mandolin, guitar and banjo while very young. In March 1916 at age 14 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy by lying about his age. Peabody served in World War I on an S-14 submarine and it was during this period he received the nicknames “Happiness Boy” (for his ebullient personality, especially when performing) and “Little Eddie” (a comic reference to his tall stature).
After Peabody’s 1921 discharge from the Navy, he began a long career in show business, beginning with Vaudeville. His successful recordings for the Columbia Company made him a household name. Peabody’s energetic playing style, which included fast triplets, glissandos, and cross-picking that simulated the sound of two banjoists playing together, prompted a 1920s reviewer to nickname him “King Of The Banjo”—a sobriquet Peabody retained the rest of his life.
Then in the 1930s Peabody promoted the plectrum banjo by visiting many of England’s BMG (Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar) clubs which were popular in the years prior to World War II.
When the U.S. entered WW II, Peabody returned to the Navy as a morale officer with the rank of Lt. Commander. He performed in shows for servicemen and directed the music and band departments of the Great Lakes Training Station near Chicago, Illinois.

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