“Dueling Banjos” is an instrumental composition that was made famous in a scene from
the 1972 movie Deliverance. The scene depicts Billy Redden playing the piece opposite
actor Ronny Cox on guitar. Redden plays “Lonnie”—a mentally retarded, inbred,
extremely gifted banjo player. Due to the unique sound of the song and its inclusion in
the film, it went to #2 on the U.S. pop chart in 1973, remaining there for four weeks. The
song also topped the adult contemporary chart for two weeks that same year.
The piece was arranged and performed for the movie for guitar and banjo by Eric
Weissberg and Steve Mandel and was on the movie’s soundtrack album. In 1955, Arthur
Smith composed a banjo instrumental he called “Feudin’ Banjos” and recorded the song
with five-string banjo player Don Reno. Later the composition appeared in the popular
1972 film Deliverance as “Dueling Banjos” played by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel.
Not given credit, Smith had to proceed with legal action that eventually gave him
songwriting credit and back royalties.