Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs dies at 88
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Earl Scruggs, whose unique picking style and alliance with Lester Flatt grounded bluegrass music’s place in popular culture, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee of natural causes, according his son Gary Scruggs. In an interview with CNN, Gary said, “I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music. It was more than that.” Scruggs was 88.
Born in 1924, Scruggs began playing the banjo at the age of 4 and started developing his three-finger style at age 10. As his career progressed, Scruggs popularized the three-finger picking style that brought the banjo to the forefront in a supercharged genre, and he was a vital member of the small cadre of musical legends who created modern bluegrass music. Many people will remember that Scruggs’ banjo was part of the soundtrack of an era on “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” which was the theme song from the CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The sitcom aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971 and for decades thereafter in syndication. Scruggs was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and was among the first inducted to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1991.