This Day in Death

3.28.12: Legendary Banjo Player Earl Scruggs – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:25 pm March 30, 2012

Within the bluegrass community, Scruggs was known for his controversial stance of either a-pickin’ *or* a-grinnin’.


Like Russian literature or parachute pants, country music is something that some people will just never be able to appreciate. And if you’re currently reading this on an iPad, you’re probably one of those people. Go back to your flying car recharge station, Space Man.

The rest of you will be bummed to hear that legendary country/bluegrass banjo player Earl Scruggs died on Wednesday of natural causes. Scruggs is perhaps best known for pioneering a three-finger approach to picking the instrument that is now often referred to as “Scruggs style” or, if you happen to be me, “Straight Scruggin’.”

Pitchfork canted their ironic fedoras in tribute:

The Shelby, N.C. native got his start in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in 1945. After leaving Monroe’s band, he partnered with Lester Flatt to form the legendary Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948. By 1955, they were members of the Grand Ole Opry and went on to have hits with “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”. His partnership with Flatt lasted until 1969.

He went on to form the Earl Scruggs Revue, which featured his two sons Gary and Randy. Around that period, he collaborated with several prominent artists, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and the Byrds (the latter three were featured in the film The Complete Earl Scruggs Story). In 2001, he released Earl Scruggs and Friends, which featured collaborations with Elton John, John Fogerty, and several others. He was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, and in 2008, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

That all sounds pretty impressive until you remember that Steve Martin can squeeze out albums’ worth of banjo music in-between farting out Cheaper By the Dozen and Pink Panther sequels. Suddenly “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” just doesn’t seem so sophisticated anymore.


Source: Pitchfork

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