Artist Profiles: Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs was born January 6, 1924 in Shelby, North Carolina, in Cleveland County.

For many, bluegrass began when Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe’s band with his blazingly fast three-fingered picking banjo style. It quickly became and remains the standard for the true bluegrass banjo sound.

Earl’s next endeavor, Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, continued his fame and legend through work in films and television. From 1948 until 1969 Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys dominated the bluegrass field due to their residency on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, yet that fame was dwarfed by their huge success in 1962.

In 1962 they recorded the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies leading bluegrass into mainstream American culture. That popular TV show led Flatt & Scruggs’ long-time signature tune, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, to be chosen as the background music for the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. In 1969 Earl sought a more contemporary sound and split with Lester to make music with his sons and other musicians in Nashville.

Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. Earl Scruggs received the National Heritage Award in 1989, the highest honor given by the National Endowment for the Arts to folk and traditional artists.

Earl Scruggs died March 28, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Books

Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Thomas Goldsmith, University of Illinois Press, October 2019. 978-0-252-04296-6, 978-0-252-08478-2, 978-0-252-05182-1.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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