Banjoist Earl Scruggs Dies At 88
Bluegrass Banjoist Earl Scruggs died at age 88 on Wednesday of natural cause in Nashville, Tennessee.
Scruggs was born in Shelby, North Carolina, and picked up the banjo when he was only a child. He adopted a signature three-finger picking style, instead of the usual two, which helped him play faster, according to the Wall Street Journal. When Scruggs was merely 21 he joined the bandleader Bill Monroe — the Father of Bluegrass — and guitarist Lester Flatt in the band, Blue Grass Boys. Scruggs is famous for such pieces as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which was used in the film Bonnie and Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, and eventually became accepted as a test for five-string banjo players. Scruggs is also famous for "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies.
"Earl Scruggs was my inspiration," said Steve Martin, whose talents, other than acting and writing, include playing the banjo. In 2001, Martin recorded a song with Scruggs that won a Grammy. In response to Scruggs death, Martin tweeted that he was "the most important banjo player who ever lived."
Scruggs is survived by his two sons, Randy and Gary.
Watch Scruggs perform here: