Earl Scruggs Biography

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Birth Name: Earl Eugene Scruggs
Born: 1924/01/06
Birth Place: Shelby, North Carolina, USA
Years Active: 1945 - Present
Genres: Bluegrass, Country, Gospel


Earl Scruggs (born Earl Eugene Scruggs, January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012) was an American musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a three-finger banjo-picking style, now called Scruggs style, which became a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. Although other musicians had played in three-finger style before him, Scruggs shot to prominence when he was hired by Bill Monroe to fill the banjo slot in his group, the Blue Grass Boys. Scruggs was born in Shelby, North Carolina and grew up in Cleveland County, North Carolina.

Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in late 1945, and quickly popularized his syncopated, three-finger picking style. In 1948 Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt left Monroe's band and formed the Foggy Mountain Boys, also later known simply as Flatt and Scruggs. In 1969, they broke up, and Scruggs started a new band, the Earl Scruggs Revue, featuring several of his sons.

In September 1962, singer Jerry Scoggins, Lester Flatt and Scruggs recorded “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” for the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which was released in October 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.

Flatt and Scruggs won a Grammy Award in 1969 for Scruggs' instrumental “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” In November 1969, Scruggs played “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on an open-air stage in Washington, D. C., at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, becoming one of the very few bluegrass or country-Western artists to give support to the anti-war movement.

In January 1973, a tribute concert was held for Scruggs in Manhattan, Kansas. Among the artists playing were Joan Baez, David Bromberg, The Byrds, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Doc and Merle Watson. The concert was filmed and turned into the 1975 documentary film “Banjoman.”

Flatt and Scruggs 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 second banjo solo, Vince Gill and Albert Lee on electric guitar solos, Paul Shaffer on piano, Leon Russell on organ, and Marty Stuart on mandolin. In 2003 Scruggs received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2008, Scruggs was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.





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