Greenbriar Boys, The


  • From New York City.
  • An influential bluegrass band of the sixties (1958-1967) popular with folk music enthusiasts.
  • Original members: John Herald (guitar), Bob Yellin (banjo), Eric Weissberg (bass), Ralph Rinzler (mandolin).
  • Performed at the Newport Folk Festival with Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, the Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan and other folk artists.
  • Besides their own recordings on Vanguard Records, they backed Joan Baez on her 1961 album (Volume 2) and also recorded an album in 1963 for Elektra Records with California folk singer Dian James (Dian and the Greenbriar Boys). That album was produced by Jim Dickson, who also produced albums for the Dillards, the Byrds, Chris Hillman and others.
  • Mandolin player Ralph Rinzler left the band in 1964 to become folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and was replaced by Frank Wakefield until the group broke up in 1970. Rinzler is credited with discovering and/or bringing to national attention many important folk and bluegrass acts, including Doc Watson. Rinzler died in 1994.
  • Featured vocalist and guitarist John Herald later formed the John Herald Band, based out of Woodstock, New York.
  • Joe Isaacs (of the Isaacs) replaced Yellin on banjo in 1967. Yellin moved to his homeland of Israel and performed there with a group called “Galilee Grass.” Returned to the U.S. in 1982 and formed a new band with his brother Gene and wife Yona called “Yellin Grass”—which he later re-named “The Joint Chiefs of Bluegrass.”
  • Original bass player Eric Weissburg is best known for his performance of “Dueling Banjos” which was used in the soundtrack for the movie “Deliverance.” He also recorded an album title “New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass” with Marshall Brickman, a very influential banjo album of the sixties.
  • 1992, the group reunited with a lineup including Yellin and Herald, Richard Greene on bass and fiddle and Greg Garing on mandolin.
  • John Herald died in 2005 at the age of 65. He committed suicide.
  • 2012, mandolinist and folklorist Ralph Rinzler was inducted into the IBMA’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame.