Country and bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs has passed away in a Nashville hospital at the age of 88.
Scruggs was born in Shelby, NC and started playing the banjo at the age of four, an instrument that would fill his days during the depression and after his father died.
Originally, he played using two fingers but, by the age of ten, he had evolved to a three-finger style that would eventually revolutionize bluegrass music and become known as “Scruggs Style Picking.”
Scruggs started his professional career in 1945 with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys but, in 1948, he left Monroe’s group along with the guitar player, Lester Flatt to form a duo that would become one of the landmarks of bluegrass music. Originally calling themselves the Foggy Mountain Boys, they would eventually change their names to simply Flatt & Scruggs.
The duo became popular among both bluegrass and country fans. They scored their first hit in the late-40’s with ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ and eventually had six top ten country records including the 1962 number one ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’.
Earl was always interested in stretching the boundaries of his banjo playing within other music genres, playing with artists from Bob Dylan to King Curtis. He broke up with Scruggs in 1969 and formed the Earl Scruggs Revue with his two sons.
The Revue continued his experimentation with other genres as they took on rock and other forms of music. Seven of their albums went on to make it on the country charts.
Flatt and Scruggs were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, he was given the National Heritage Fellowship in 1989 and was one of the inaugural members of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1991. Other honors include the National Medal of Honor (1992), two Grammys and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Scruggs wife, Louise, passed away in 2006. The couple had been married for 58 years.
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