Arthur Smith & Don Reno: Give These Pickers the Credit


Don Reno & Arthur Smith – Feudin Banjos (Dueling Banjos) (1955)

Thanks go to Terry Schafer over at our facebook page for shared this video of banjoist Don Reno (3 finger style) and Arthur Smith (tenor banjo).

Now you go back to 1955 and you think, how hot were the players back then?

Well, just as hot as anyone now.

Every generation has their list of hot players, and Don Reno and Arthur Smith definitely qualify amoungst their generation.

This as far as I knew, was the first “Dueling or Feudin’ Banjos” which got it’s name for two banjos going at it, not banjo and guitar which was made popular in the movie Deliverance. Then the movie comes out, and no mention of Don or Arthur.

FYI- you know that single string playing of Bela Flecks? Guess who did it first? Don Reno.

Guess who was flatpicking earlier than almost anybody? Don Reno… So, this is some groundbreaking music for those times!

Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks got their careers started as a family group while in high school in Kershaw, South Carolina. They got their inspiration from their dad – who on Sundays was the director of a big brass band that was the pride of Kershaw. They often tell of the fact that their dad hoped they could play music every day of the week, not just on Sundays. Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks did that and some. 
When World War II began, the group split up. Arthur was in Naval Transportation, Sonny Smith was a radar man, Ralph Smith was an Army master sergeant. Even while in the service, they kept up their musical aspirations, for on leaves they would meet up in Washington to do some recordings. One of those sessions resulted in “Guitar Boogie”. You might say that became a hit – it sold over 3,000,000 copies. They pressed a silver platter for the Library of Congress. 

At the end of World War II, the group came to Charlotte and had done over a 1,000 television shows, over 2,000 radio broadcasts, 2,500 personal appearances and 130 recordings! They decided to join radio station WBT when they got out of the service around 1946. Three years later, WBTV was on the air, too.”  read more