Earl Scruggs, pioneer of the country music genre ‘bluegrass’ and a legend on the banjo, died on Wednesday morning of natural causes. He was 88 years old.
While his name may no longer be a household title to some music fans, Scruggs profoundly altered the course of country and bluegrass with his three-finger banjo-picking style (now known, of course, as Scruggs style). It was this unique method of playing—as opposed to the more classic “clawhammer” style of playing—that lifted the banjo in prominence from simply part of the rhythm section in country music and elevated it to a lead instrument.
His style being most prominently, and popularly, heard in the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies, Scruggs made himself a powerful force in country music through his performances with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, Flatt and Scruggs (with guitarist Lester Flatt), and the Earl Scruggs Review.
Scruggs’ son Gary released a statement announcing that he had died on Wednesday morning in Nashville, Tennessee hospital of natural causes.
Prior to his passing, Scruggs had won multiple Grammy awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award), had been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, been endowed with a National Heritage Fellowship, was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
How will you remember Earl Scruggs?