Neal James, the bushy bearded “Banjo Man” from the Animal Planet series The Call of the Wildman, has died. He was 55 and had been battling cardiac issues, according to the Washington County Coroner’s Office in his home state of Kentucky.
The coroner said James died Feb. 1 at approximately 1 a.m. at his home in Kentucky. A video clip of his music is above.
James was the sidekick to series star Ernie Brown Jr., aka “The Turtleman.” The reality show aired from 2011 to 2014 and followed the exploits of a Kentucky nuisance animal removal business. Brown and James would catch and release, and James’s easy-going style became a fan favorite.
Beyond the show, James also worked at the Isaiah House in Willisburg, Kentucky, helping recovering addicts.