Billy Faier

Billy Faier (December 21, 1930 – January 29, 2016) was an American banjo player and folk music evangelist. He, along with Pete Seeger, was one of the early exponents of the banjo during the mid-20th-century American folk music revival.

Billy Faier
Born(1930-12-21)December 21, 1930
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 29, 2016(2016-01-29) (aged 85)
Alpine, Texas, U.S,
InstrumentsBanjo, guitar
LabelsRiverside, Takoma
Associated actsJohn Sebastian, The Doodlin' Hogwallops


Born in Brooklyn, New York,[1] he moved with his family to Woodstock, New York in 1945,[2] and later lived in Marathon, Texas. Active in the Washington Square Park folk scene in Greenwich Village from the late 1940s, he recorded two albums for Riverside Records, The Art of the Five-String Banjo (1957) and Travelin' Man (1958).[3] In 1959 he contributed to Elektra Records' combination LP and instructional manual, "How to Play Folk Guitar" along with Lee Hays and Milt Okun.[4]

Faier performed transcription and notation services for Pete Seeger on several projects, most notably 1959's The Goofing Off Suite.[5][6] In the late 1950s, Faier wrote for Caravan Folk Music Magazine, eventually acquiring it from founding publisher Lee Hoffman.[7] Faier served as editor and publisher until its last issue in July 1960.[4] Faier was an on-stage banjo player for the original 16-month theatrical run of The Unsinkable Molly Brown on Broadway which concluded in February 1962.[8][9]

Faier went on to work as a disc jockey at several radio stations including Berkeley's KPFA and New York's WBAI, where he hosted a live folk music program called "The Midnight Special." Bob Dylan appeared as a guest on the program in October 1962 after the release of his first album.[10]

In 1973, Faier recorded Banjo for John Fahey's Takoma label. In 2003, his personal papers as well as some recordings were donated to the University of North Carolina Libraries Southern Folklife Collection where they remain available for researchers.[9] He died in Alpine, Texas, in 2016, aged 85.[11]

Selected discographyEdit

In 2009, Faier decided to make much of his out of print and unreleased material available on his website.

  • The Art of the Five-String Banjo (1957 – with Frank Hamilton)
  • Travelin' Man (1958)
  • The Beast of Billy Faier (1964 – with John Sebastian)
  • Banjo (1973)
  • Banjos, Birdsong and Mother Earth (1987 – with John Sebastian and Gilles Malkine)


  1. ^ "Billy Faier – The Five String Banjo". August 7, 2006. Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2009.
  2. ^ "Billy Faier – The Five String Banjo". December 10, 2009. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  3. ^ "Billy Faier Discography". January 31, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Holzman, Jac (1959). How to Play Folk Guitar. New York, NY: Elektra Records. p. 51.
  5. ^ The Goofing-off suite: instrumental pieces for 5-string banjo and guitar and mandolin, Hargail Music Press, 1959, retrieved July 4, 2018
  6. ^ "Billy Faier Collection, 1955-2003". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  7. ^ "Lee Hoffman, My Folknik Days". October 9, 2007. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  8. ^ League, The Broadway. "Billy Faier – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Billy Faier Collection, 1955-2003". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Billy Faier on interviewing Bob Dylan, WBAI, '62 (Part 5, Countdown, No. 3)". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  11. ^ Stefan Wirz, Illustrated Billy Faier Discography. Retrieved 31 January 2016

External linksEdit

Archival MaterialsEdit