“The King of theBanjo”
(1902 – 1970)
AMERICAN BANJOPLAYER, INSTRUMENT INVENTOR and MUSICAL ENTERTAINER FOR FIVE DECADES FROM 1920sVAUDEVILLE TO 1960s TV,
THE MOST FAMOUSPLECTRUM BANJOIST and ENTERTAINMENT RADIO STAR OF HIS ERA
WWII SPYAPPOINTED BY PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT FOR A US NAVY ESPIONAGE MISSION TOCOLLECT EVIDENCE OF NAZI GERMANY’S MILITARY BUILD-UP
Before his European tour of 1938, Peabody wascommissionedas a US Naval Officerat the special request of PresidentF.D. Roosevelt and during the trip did some espionage work collecting evidenceof the German military build-up. During the war yearshe did USO shows forthousands of servicemen.
From the 1950'sonwards he wasworking onTV, playing shows and supper-clubs all over the USAand hewasappearingon stage right up until his passing in 1970.
Eddie was the most famous banjo player of his time,a great entertainer and an inspiration to many Plectrum Banjo players the worldover, both then and now.
HERE IS A VINTAGE AUTOGRAPH NOTE SIGNED BY EDDIE PEABODY, ONA BROWN PAPER SCRAP ALBUM SHEET. PEABODYSIGNS ALONG WITH A GROUP OF OTHER MUSICAL ENTERTAINERS (UN-RESEARCHED) - ALLAUTOGRAPHS ARE INSCRIBED TO A GIRL NAMED ‘VIOLET’
[FURTHER RESEARCH NEEDED!]
Thedocument measures 8½” x 11” and is in VF condition.
A FINE ADDITIONTO YOUR AMERICAN ENTERTAINERS HISTORICAL AUTOGRAPH, MANUSCRIPT, & EPHEMERA COLLECTION!
Edwin Ellsworth Peabody, known as EddiePeabody (February 19, 1902 – November 7, 1970) was an Americanbanjo player, instrument developer and musical entertainer whose career spannedfive decades. He was the most famous plectrumbanjoist of his era.Early years
Born in Reading, Massachusetts,Peabody taught himself to play the violin,mandolin,guitarand banjowhile very young.Military service
In March 1916, at age 14, Peabody enlisted in the U.S. Navyby lying about his age, and served in WorldWar I on an S-14 submarine.During this period he received the nicknames "Happiness Boy" (for hisebullient personality, especially when performing) and "Little Eddie"(a comic reference to his short stature).Career
After Peabody's 1921 discharge from the Navy, he began a long career inshow business, beginning with Vaudeville.His successful recordings for the ColumbiaCompany made him a household name. Peabody's energetic playingstyle, which included fast triplets, glissandos and cross-picking simulatingthe sound of two banjoists, prompted a 1920s reviewer to nickname him"King Of The Banjo"—a sobriquet he retained the rest of his life.
In the 1930s, Peabody promoted the plectrum banjo by visiting many ofEngland's BMG (Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar) clubs which were popular in theyears prior to World War II.
When the U.S. entered WW II, Peabody returned to the Navy as a moraleofficer with the rank of Lt. Commander. He performed in shows for servicemenand directed the music and band departments of the Great Lakes Training Stationnear Chicago, Illinois.
After the war, Peabody attempted to restart his concert career. By then,most Vaudeville halls had closed and musical tastes had changed. In 1948, the ArtMooney Orchestra resurrected the 1920s standard I'm Looking Over a FourLeaf Clover and created interest in bothnostalgic music and the banjo. Capitalizing on this trend, Peabody recordedseveral albums for Dot Records and performed at thesupper clubs which were popular at the time. His subsequent TV appearances madehim a household name once again. He went on to produce records, appear inmovies, and inspire generations of banjoists who continue to emulate hisspirited style.Later accomplishments
In partnership with the VegaBanjo Company of Boston, Peabody developed a new type of plectrumbanjo called the Vegavox, featuring a resonator that rose the full height ofthe banjo's body. (Traditional resonators are about half as high.) Thisincreased the banjo's interior resonation space, giving it a distinctivelymellow tone. The Vegavox also featured a "top-tension" design thatallowed the head's tension to be adjusted without removing the resonator. TheVegavox was produced primarily in four-stringed plectrum (22-fret) and tenor(19-fret) versions; however, some five-string models were made as specialorders.
Peabody also developed a special electricbanjo—first with Vega, and later with the Fender Companyand Rickenbacker—called the Banjoline.It was tuned as a plectrum banjo but with the 3rd and 4th strings doubled inoctaves, as on a 12-string guitar. The Banjolineis now a highly prized collector's item, although it is seldom used in liveperformance.
Peabody performed for national leaders around the world. In 1958, Dwight D. Eisenhowerawarded him a distinguished People To People Award for meritorious service inboth the military and show business.
According to one broadcast veteran, a radio announcer once mis-introducedPeabody by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Eddie Playbody will now peefor you".Personal life
In the 1920s Peabody married his business manager Maude Kelly. Aftermaking several visits to the Mission Innin Riverside, California,the Peabodys lived in Riverside from 1928 to 1939 when they divorced. In 1940he married Ragna Kaupanger, a Norwegian-Americannurse and UnitedAirlines flight attendant. They had two children, Eddie Jr.and George Robert Peabody.
Peabody continued to perform until his death in 1970, at age 68, due to a brain hemorrhagesuffered while onstage at the Lookout House Supper Club in Covington, Kentucky.His wife, Ragna Peabody, died in 2002.See also
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