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Bluegrass Legend Earl Scruggs Passes Away

Legendary banjo player and Country Music Hall-of-Famer Earl Scruggs passed away on March 28, after a long season of failing health. He was 88.

Scruggs was indisputably one of the most influential bluegrass banjo players of all time. His signature three-finger picking style (known today as Scruggs style), a style he developed himself, was duplicated by thousands of banjo players after him, and became a defining characteristic sound in bluegrass music.

Even if you have never been a fan of country or bluegrass, chances are you have heard Earl Scruggs play the banjo. Anybody know the theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies (“The Ballad of Jed Clampett”)? That’s Scruggs on the banjo. He also played on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” one of the most widely recognized songs in the bluegrass genre, which was also featured in the film Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Thus, while Scruggs was obviously best known within Nashville circles, he made an indelible mark upon pop culture, as well.

Besides being a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Scruggs received numerous other awards and honors in his lifetime, including a Grammy for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also one of the few bluegrass musicians to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Appropriately, Scruggs’s funeral was held Sunday, April 1, at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. He will be sorely missed.

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About the Author


Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

Posted in: Country Music


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