Sadly, bluegrass banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs has passed away at the age of 88. In an age when clawhammer banjo playing still dominated the string band scene, Scruggs brought his three-finger picking style out of the North Carolina mountains and smack dab into the mainstream. It became the dominant playing style in bluegrass and roots music generally as a result of his virtuoso performances with Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys as well as with Flatt & Scruggs.
Scruggs signed on with the Father of Bluegrass (Monroe) back in 1945 and was on the recordings of some the group’s most classic tunes. Lester Flatt was also in the Bluegrass Boys and they both left in 1948 to form their well-known group, the Foggy Mountain Boys a.k.a. Flatt & Scruggs, who were famous outside of the bluegrass world for The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, but within the bluegrass community were respected nearly as much as Bill Monroe himself.
In later years, Scruggs teamed with his son Randy Scruggs in the Earl Scruggs Revue, an exciting group that took the newgrass movement to heart and worked beyond the traditional bluegrass template to bring in sounds from rock and folk.
Earl Scruggs passed away in Nashville on 28 March of natural causes. He was a giant and his influence was felt across the music world. Scruggs will be greatly missed and remembered as one of the true musician’s musicians.
Here’s our video tribute to the banjo master…
The Complete Earl Scruggs Story (full-length film)
THE THREE PICKERS (Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs)
Bill Monroe & Earl Scruggs at the Grand Ole Opry
Flatt and Scruggs: Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow and Home Sweet Home
Flatt & Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Earl Scruggs Performs at Anti War Demonstration
Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson Playing at Doc’s Home
Earl Scruggs Revue - “Country Comfort” (Elton John Cover)
Earl Scruggs & Steve Martin - Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Earl Scruggs and Friends - Foggy Mountain Breakdown