Published on March 29th, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Banjo Pioneer Earl Scruggs Dead At 88
If you don’t know the name Earl Scruggs perhaps you should, the man was a legend in the world of banjo players, having propelled the instrument to the center stage and heart of bluegrass music. Earl was responsible for three-finger power picking and we’re sad to report that he has passed away at the age of 88-years-olds.
Scruggs rose to fame way back in the 1940s when he teamed up with longtime partner and guitarist Lester Flatt to form the band known as the Foggy Mountain Boys.
After forming the group they went on to record the popular bluegrass song “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” which released in 1949 and quickly became their signature tune.
Scruggs’ love of the banjo started at the young age of just 4-years-old. Scruggs received his first big break with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and he would later go on with Flatt to record “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” for The Beverly Hillbillies. After creating the shows theme song Earl Scruggs even managed to make a few appearances on the show alongside Flatts.
Eventually Flatts and Scruggs grew apart in one of the industry’s most famous feuds. Scruggs embraced the song styling of Bob Dylan and folk rock while Flatts chose to stay with his familiar bluegrass roots. Scruggs would eventually go on to form the Earl Scruggs Review which included the use of drums and electric bass.
Scruggs’ decision eventually led him to share the stage with some of the biggest acts of the time including Steppenwolf and James Taylor.
On his 80th birthday Porter Wagoner said of Earl Scruggs:
“Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball. He is the best there ever was, and the best there ever will be.”
As a pioneer of his craft Earl Scruggs will be missed by all of his fans.