Eddie Smith joined the band on November 25, 1956, and left on November 26, 1964. While he was occasionally heard on guitar, he was best known for his driving, chord-based banjo playing.
Eddie's first recording with the band was Chris Barber In Concert, a Royal Festival Hall performance recorded on December 15, 1956. He also played on the last LP in the Chris Barber Plays series (Volume 4), and on all of the Chris Barber In Concert, Chris Barber International (Berlin, Copenhagen and London) , and Chris Barber Band Box LPs, as well as many other recordings. His last commercially-released appearance was on the Good Morning Blues album. A nice example of his work can be heard on an excerpt from "Some Of These Days", a feature for Pat Halcox, from Chris Barber in Budapest, recorded in July, 1962.
In the early 1960s, most of the members of the band wrote a short (usually just one page) autobiography. Copies of the documents are part of the Barber-Purser archives. Here is Eddie Smith's contribution:
My first job lasted three years, and during the whole time the only thing I did was concerned with one aspect or another of printing Chinese 10 Yuan bank notes. I am an expert on Chinese 10 Yuan bank notes. That first three years of my apprenticeship in the print trade ended when I was called up, but nobody used my expert knowledge, and I finally became a dispatch rider. This suited me as motor bikes were my only hobby. In fact when I got out of the Army, I competed in road races all over Britain. However, going back to those days in the Army: I was stationed in Vienna for a while, and had the dubious privilege of being imprisoned by the Russians for four days when I wandered into the wrong zone. It caused quite a stir in the papers.
Jazz came into my life much later on, and then only as a development of an interest in Country and Western music. Probably this is why banjos and guitars have always been my forte. I remember that one of my favourite Western records was by someone called Chuck Thomas, and it was years later that I found out that this was really Woody Herman under an assumed name. It was around this time in my life that I was involved in a very serious crash at Blandford in a motor cycle race. Seven of us piled up, and I was the only one who wasn't killed. It shook me up quite a bit, and it was nine months before I could walk properly again.
The jazz started in much the same way as it did for so many of today's musicians. A crowd of my friends in Edmonton wanted a banjo player to complete their band. So I bought one, started to learn, and that was that. I remember I was absolutely knocked out by creating jazz. Everything else was unimportant to me except playing, and gradually jazz became the most important thing in my life. As my life in the print world was essentially a freelance occupation I didn't have to make a big decision to become a professional musician; but really, I suppose, it was when I joined Chris in November 1956 that I stopped doing odd evenings in printing. Before that, however, I'd played with Mike Daniels, Bob Dawbarn and Ian Bell.
It was just before I became part of the Chris Barber Band that I got married, and that has influenced my life a lot. Really I like to be near my home if I can, and although I love the travelling that we do with the band, I wish that Mary could go with me. I read a lot and I love just sitting about at home. However, don't misunderstand me, I love being with the band, and I personally hope that it goes on forever.
[There is a two-page article about Eddie Smith in Chris Barber Club booklet, Vol. 7, No. 5.]