The banjo’s never had much success in rock, has it? I know, if we did a Last Man Standing we could end up listing 138 rock songs featuring a banjo, but beside a Monkees’ song or two featuring a banjo, how many instances immediately spring to mind—and to the point of this discussion, when do you ever think, “You know, this song would really benefit from the inclusion of a banjo!”
Scruffy the Cat originally had a banjo player; I don’t know anything about him or how long he stuck with the band. I saw them with the banjo guy early on at Maxwell’s. They were awesome, and the banjo made for a fine percussive rhythm instrument, able to cut through on solos as well as rhythm parts. The banjo is essentially a guitar with a snare drum. What could be more rock ‘n roll than that? Why isn’t the banjo more often featured in rock ‘n roll songs? The stinking mandolin probably gets more use. The mandolin doesn’t seem to possess many rocking qualities.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. Maybe the banjo has a rich history in rock ‘n roll that I’ve forgotten. I, for one, believe the banjo has untapped potential as part of an actual rock ‘n roll rhythm section, played more like a guitar, not so tied to the instrument’s pickin’ and grinnin’ tradition. Say Amen, somebody!