Earl Scruggs: Wikis


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Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs performing at The Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 12, 2005
Background information
Birth name Earl Eugene Scruggs
Born January 6, 1924 (1924-01-06) (age 86)
Origin Shelby, North Carolina, USA
Genres Bluegrass, country, gospel
Occupations Bluegrass artist
Instruments 5-string banjo, guitar
Years active 1945 – Present
Labels MCA Nashville Records
Associated acts Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Flatt and Scruggs, Earl Scruggs Revue
Website www.earlscruggs.com
Notable instruments
A 1933/34 Gibson Granada previously owned by Don Reno and Snuffy Jenkins, and "Nellie," a 1935/36 Gibson RB-3/RB-75 flathead[1][2]

Earl Eugene Scruggs (born January 6, 1924) is a musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger style (now called Scruggs style) on the 5-string banjo that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. Although other musicians had played in 3-finger style before him, Scruggs shot to prominence when he was hired by Bill Monroe to fill the banjo slot in the "Blue Grass Boys". Scruggs built on earlier styles to develop a truly new and readily identifiable style, involving: unprecedented smoothness, syncopation, and uninterrupted flow; a large vocabulary of unique and original licks; blues and jazz phrases, evident in backup and in solos such as "Foggy Mountain Special;" and an overall coherency and polish that other stylists lacked, which inspired imitation by newer generations of banjo pickers.



Scruggs was born in Shelby, North Carolina, to Georgia Lula Ruppe and George Elam Scruggs.[3] Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in late 1945 and his syncopated, three-finger picking style quickly became a sensation. In 1948 Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt left Monroe's band and formed the Foggy Mountain Boys. In 1969, Flatt and Scruggs broke up and Scruggs started a new band, the Earl Scruggs Revue, featuring several of his sons.

On September 24, 1962 singer Jerry Scoggins, Flatt, and Scruggs recorded "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" for the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies which was released October 12, 1962. The theme song became an immediate country music hit and was played at the beginning and end of each episode. Flatt and Scruggs appeared in several episodes as family friends of the Clampetts in the following years. In their first appearance, season 1 episode 20, they portray themselves in the show and perform both the theme song and "Pearl Pearl Pearl".

Flatt and Scruggs won a Grammy Award in 1969 for Scruggs' instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". They were inducted together into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1989, Scruggs was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship. He was an inaugural inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991. In 1992, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

In 2002 Scruggs won a second Grammy award for the 2001 recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", which featured artists such as Steve Martin on 2nd banjo solo (Martin played the banjo tune on his 1970s stand-up comic acts), Vince Gill and Albert Lee on electric guitar solos, Paul Shaffer on piano, Leon Russell on organ, and Marty Stuart on mandolin. The album, Earl Scruggs and Friends, also featured artists such as John Fogerty, Elton John, Sting, Johnny Cash, Don Henley, Travis Tritt, Steve Martin and Billy Bob Thornton. Earl Scruggs and Friends (MCA Nashville, 2001).

On February 13, 2003, Scruggs received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, he and Flatt were ranked #24 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.

Scruggs' wife and manager Louise Scruggs died on February 2, 2006 at the age of 78 at Nashville, Tennessee's Baptist Hospital following a lengthy illness.[4]

On September 13, 2006, Scruggs was honored at Turner Field in Atlanta as part of the pre-game show for an Atlanta Braves home game. Organizers (Banjo.com) set a world record for the most banjo players (239) playing one tune together (Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown").

On February 10, 2008, Scruggs was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.


Bela Fleck names Earl Scruggs among his influences. [5] He regards Scruggs as "certainly the best" banjo player of the three-finger style.[6]




Year Single Chart Positions
US Country US US Heat US Bluegrass
1967 Strictly Instrumental (with Lester Flatt and Doc Watson)
1968 The Story of Bonnie and Clyde (with Lester Flatt and the Foggy Mountain Boys)[7]
1969 Changin' Times
1970 Nashville Airplane
1972 I Saw the Light with Some Help from My Friends
Earl Scruggs: His Family and Friends
Live at Kansas State 20
1973 Rockin' 'Cross the Country 46
Dueling Banjos
The Earl Scruggs Revue 169
1975 Anniversary Special 104
1976 The Earl Scruggs Revue 2 161
Family Portrait 49
1977 Live from Austin City Limits 49
Strike Anywhere
1978 Bold & New 50
1979 Today & Forever
1982 Storyteller and the Banjo Man (with Tom T. Hall)
Flatt & Scruggs
1983 Top of the World
1984 Superjammin'
1998 Artist's Choice: The Best Tracks (1970-1980)
2001 Earl Scruggs and Friends 39 33 14
2002 Classic Bluegrass Live: 1959-1966
2003 Three Pickers (with Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs) 24 179 2
2004 The Essential Earl Scruggs
2005 Live with Donnie Allen and Friends
2007 "Lifetimes: Lewis, Scruggs, and Long"


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1970 "Nashville Skyline Rag" 74 Earl Scruggs: His Family and Friends
1979 "I Sure Could Use the Feeling" 30 41 Single only
"Play Me No Sad Songs" 82 66 Today & Forever
1980 "Blue Moon of Kentucky" 46
1982 "There Ain't No Country Music on This Jukebox"
(with Tom T. Hall)
77 Storyteller and the Banjo Man
"Song of the South" (with Tom T. Hall) 72


  • Earl Scruggs - His Family and Friends (2005)
    (Recorded 1969. Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez et al.)
  • Private Sessions (2005)
  • The Bluegrass Legend (2006)

Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs

  • The Three Pickers (2003)

Flatt and Scruggs

  • The Best of Flatt and Scruggs TV Show Vol 1 (2007)
  • The Best of Flatt and Scruggs TV Show Vol 2 (2007)


  1. ^ "Gibson Banjos 1925 and Later, # 9584-3". Pre-War Gibson Banjo Serial Number Listing. Banjophiles.org. http://www.banjophiles.org/SerNumData/9XXX.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  2. ^ Cushman, Charlie (2009-03-13). "Scruggs/Reno 1935 RB-3". http://www.charliecushman.com/ScruggsReno.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  3. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Earl Scruggs". William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services. http://www.wargs.com/other/scruggs.html. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  4. ^ "Music Industry Pioneer Louise Scruggs Dies". CMT.com. 2006-02-02. http://www.cmt.com/news/articles/1523089/20060202/scruggs_earl.jhtml?headlines=true. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  5. ^ Interview on Béla Fleck & the Flecktones 2000 DVD, “Live at the Quick”
  6. ^ PBS Interview with Béla Fleck
  7. ^ Billboard Magazine (Nielsen Business Media) 80 (22): 43. June 1, 1968. ISSN 0006-2510. http://books.google.com/books?id=yQoEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA43. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 


External links


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