Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where are they now? -- The banjo pickin' boy on the porch in Deliverance

Billy Redden in 2003 at 49 years of age

What ever became of the boy who played the banjo (The Wikipedia describes him as the "creepy banjo kid") on the porch in 1972's Deliverance?

As it turns out, Billy Redden, the man who may be the most famous banjo player of all time, can barely play at all.

In 2003, Redden appeared in Tim Burton's movie "Big Fish." It was his first movie since his appearance in Deliverance. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Burton on Dec. 23, 2003: "I never forgot that image." The spooky and haunting Redden appeared in one of the key scenes of "Deliverance." 

Redden said he did not mind being a hillbilly icon in the film, but he was embarrassed by what he--unintentionally, hilariously--called the film's "love scene" (a violent rape that turns the sylvan rafting trip into a nightmare). Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty starred in the film. Voight claimed that Billy is the son of an unholy union between his mother and his brother). I find no confirmation of that, but I've never believed much that emerges from that rabid Republican's mouth.

Billy Redden in 1972 - click to enlarge

Tim Burton eventually located Redden in Clayton, Georgia, where Redden works as a cook, dishwasher and part-owner of the Cookie Jar Cafe. "Big Fish," drew the attention of media as far away as London and throughout the United States. "Quite a few people have come in to meet me," Redden said.

Burton gave Redden the banjo he used in the film,and a video about how to play the banjo. Redden said he would give it a shot.

Redden's performance on that porch, in the Dueling Banjos is one of the most memorable and creepy movie scenes ever. After that scene (and the Ned Beatty "love scene"), you knew anything could happen in this bizarro hillbilly world. I might have some cousins in that film. Billy and I might even be related, when you think about some of Our People's breeding practices back there (and maybe even out here). We're not quite in the "I'm My Own Grandpa" camp, but who knows?



Anonymous said...

that guy is my idol ... southern pride!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why do you have to throw politics into everything? It diminishes your credibility.

Dave said...

Dear Anonymous, which derogatory term does your complaint about politics refer to, "Hillbilly" or "Republican"?

Anonymous said...

This is "probably" what happens.. "Hillbilly Republicans"

Let the music live on...

And the blahh blahh fade away . . .

Anonymous said...

I am a "hillbilly" from the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, where marrying your first cousin is not only legal, but fairly common. I can assure you that the term "hillbilly" is not synonymous with "republican". I'd say about 25% of hillbillies are Democrats, and about 25% are Republicans...the other 50% just don't care. I didn't take that statement as "political" or offensive, at all. I am a proud hillbilly. I have cousins and aunts and uncles who have married cousins, and have had children that were/are "dull" (hillbilly term for inbred/slow), but they are good people. They are good people...but "querr" (queer)....strange and clannish. It is a mountain way of life, and quite interesting, to say the least. LOL I've always wondered about the Banjo Boy...great followup! Thx!

oldmaxxo said...

Just an absolutely classic piece of film memorabilia.

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