Earl Scruggs 1924-2012

He changed the music forever.

Flatt & Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Uploaded by Gatorrock787 on Mar 28, 2012

For traditional music, Earl's dynamic three-finger picking style propelled both the banjo and bluegrass onto the national stage. He made Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys into a popular music force. He got the music into the movies and onto TV and thus across popular culture at large. He changed the music forever. And he also later moved to meld bluegrass with modern folk-rock and other musical forms.

But as a calming influence, he remained a tranquil bridge between the past and the future. He was a link between the old, traditional world of country and the bright, new, innovative music of the future. He wasn't burning any bridges. He was building them. You never heard him raise his voice. But people always listened to what he had to say.

Scruggs is credited with coming up with a three-fingered picking style which simultaneously played rhythm and melody. It became known as the "Scruggs Style.” Musicians say if you go to a bluegrass festival, every banjo note can be traced to Earl Scruggs.

"He went in the back room and was picking and playing and all of a sudden this new style came to him. He tried it and he came running through the house saying, ‘I got it, I got it,’” said nephew J.T. Scruggs about how that style came about when Scruggs was a kid.…

He moved to Nashville, but came home to visit family and jam with friends.

"You'd think he still lived in Cleveland County,” Scruggs said.

Scruggs gave back to Cleveland County even into his 80’s, performing three concerts over the last six years.

His hometown is giving back as well. The old courthouse in downtown Shelby has been renamed the Earl Scruggs Center. The wreath outside says “Earl, you did good.…”

“He was a very, very unassuming man,” Jenks said of Earl Scruggs. “He really loved playing banjo and everybody else loved it too. It was great to play with him and it was a treat to be so close with Horace Scruggs, his brother.”

Rebecca Clark, Shelby Star
'He brought that banjo to life'

Earl Scruggs, the banjo-playing bluegrass legend best known for composing and singing the themes for The Beverly Hillbillies TV series and the Bonnie and Clyde movie, died of natural causes Wednesday in a Nashville hospital, his son Gary confirmed to CNN. Scruggs was 88.…

Earl Scruggs married Anne Louise Certain in 1948 and was married to her for 57 years, until her death in 2006. Scruggs is survived by his sons Gary and Randy.

"I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music," Gary Scruggs told CNN. "It was more than that." We would have to agree.

Earl Scruggs photo gallery in The Tennessean
Earl, 2009 Cashiers Mountain Music Festival photo gallery