Over 80 years old, Earl Scruggs remains America's greatest living Bluegrass icon. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Grammys, and he continues to perform with his sons as the Earl Scruggs Revue. Having perfected a three finger … Read more
Over 80 years old, Earl Scruggs remains America's greatest living Bluegrass icon. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Grammys, and he continues to perform with his sons as the Earl Scruggs Revue. Having perfected a three finger style of banjo playing (aptly called the "Scruggs style"), he has recorded or performed on hundreds of popular bluegrass and country albums. Born in North Carolina in 1924, Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1945. Monroe is considered the godfather of bluegrass, and Scruggs couldn't have had a better environment to hone his craft.
In 1948, Scruggs and a guitarist in Monroe's group named Lester Flatt, left to form their own duo: Flatt & Scruggs. They soon formed a group around the duo, called the Foggy Mountain Boys, and within a couple of years were the hottest act in bluegrass. They saw their biggest commercial success when they recorded the theme to the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies in 1963, and three years later, when Warren Beatty asked them to score the music to his upcoming gangster film, Bonnie and Clyde. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" became a bluegrass instrumental smash and Scruggs' signature song.
Flatt & Scruggs stayed together for 22 years before they split in 1970. They stopped performing the previous year, but remained a professional duo long enough to finish one more release for Sony Music. The duo had been arguing over musical direction, with Scruggs wanting to explore pop, rock, jazz, and country, while Flatt wanted to remain a traditional bluegrass band. The split was not amicable and Flatt kept most of the Foggy Mountain Boys as members for his group; while Scruggs formed the Earl Scruggs Revue with his sons, former Foggy Mountain Boys member Josh Graves, and Vassar Clements.
The Earl Scruggs Revue continues to tour today.