Thursday, March 29, 2012

Earl Scruggs 1924-2012

Tagging Earl Scruggs as a legend is to diminish what he was to Mountain Music. He was arguably the best banjo picker that ever lived or ever will. Prior to his leap to fame in the 1940's, 5-string banjo was frailed rather than picked with three fingers. He invented the style which is used by most traditionalists including yours truly.

The movie Bonnie & Clyde used his original score of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," as the chase theme. He also wrote and performed "The Ballad Of Jed Clampett," the theme for Beverly Hillbillies.

Through the forties, he and Lester Flatt on Guitar were an integral part of the Bill Monroe Band. The band played on the Grand Old Opry after World War 11 and hit music like a bomb going off.

Earl and Lester left the Monroe band in 1969 where they played in just about every venue including New York City. Flatt died in 1979, but Scruggs carried on with his three sons and playing with other Bluegrass greats like the Dillards and others who learned banjo at his knee.

That he will be missed is a given. His death isn't just the end of his life, it is the end of an era. An era that probably will not be repeated, as Bluegrass is way out of the main stream in music.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice article on Earl Scruggs. Certainly the most famous banjo player of all time. Actually he and Lester Flatt left Bill Monroe's band in 1948. Shortly after that they formed the Foggy Mountain Boys which lasted until 1969. Must have been great to develop a style of playing an instrument.