Eric Ellis was born on August 12, 1958 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He grew up in the Mount Pleasant area of Wilkes County and started playing the guitar at age five. At the age of fifteen he was given his first banjo from his father, made by his uncle Bill Johnson and friend Jack Williams. He started playing the banjo locally with musicians Tiny Pruitt, Steve Kilby and Harvey Baity. In 1978, he played in a band called ‘Heritage’ with Wendell and Darel Wiles from Elkin. He stayed with the band for about six months and moved on to another band called ‘Wells Fargo’ based out of Yadkinville. Eric stayed with the band for about a year, then moved on to freelancing.
Over the years Eric has been a member of local and regional bands, and for the past two years he has played selected dates with David Person and 1946. He has since played with popular bluegrass musicians like Jim Shumate, Tony Rice, Jimmy Gaudreau, Jim Buchanan and George Shuffler. Although Ellis is best known for his talents on the banjo, he’s also a hot shot Nashville-style guitar picker. Today he passes on his musical knowledge as a teacher and mentor to younger upstart players.