No doubt the most influential banjoist in the world died on March 28, at the age of 88.
The website Bluegrass Today, is not surprisingly filled with appreciations of Scruggs’ career, including this article by David Morris, titled “A Legend’s Biggest Moments”.
Here’s the irony of being asked to write about the highlights of Earl Scruggs’ career as king of the banjo and a bluegrass pioneer: What doesn’t make the cut as one of his top achievements would be the crowning moment for just about every other picker. Read more here.
Scruggs’ signature tune, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, was first recorded in 1949 with long-time partner Lester Flatt. It won two Grammy’s: in 1969 and 2001. Scruggs also performed it the only time I ever “saw” him live — at the Vietnam Moratorium in Washington DC in Nov. 1969. (I was a long way from being able to actually “see” anyone on stage that day).
Two video samples. First, classic Earl:
A more recent video taste: That 1969 “Breakdown”. Friends include Steve Martin on 2nd banjo, Randy& Gary Scruggs, Leon Russell, Albert Lee, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart…
I have two Scruggs vinyl LP’s: A Flatt & Scruggs anthology, and the 1973 Earl Scruggs Revue which included his three sons. If I didn’t mention the year, I don’t think anyone would have trouble picking out the decade this was issued…