MAR 29, 2012 – Legend and master banjo player Earl Scruggs, who was the father of the three-finger banjo picking style, passed away on March 28, 2012 at the age of 88. Born in 1924 in Flint Hill, N.C. he taught himself how to play with his 2 other brothers, including the guitar and autoharp. He started his musical career with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys in 1939.
IN 1948 Earl and guitar player Lester Flatt left the Bluegrass Boys and formed a duo, their peak being in 1962 with the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies that virtually everyone knows. Earl Scruggs was a progressive when it came to music and social issues, and wanted to bring in some popular sound, maybe even some saxophone; but Lester was very conservative and hated long-haired hippies, and it caused a rift and breakup of the duo in 1969.
Earl Scruggs became one of the very rare country/bluegrass musicians to ever add his musical activist voice to the anti-Vietnam War movement, performing his classic song "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam demonstration in October of 1969. Earl Scruggs later said in an interview of his performance, "I think the people in the South is just as concerned as the people that's walkin' the streets here today… I'm sincere about bringing our boys back home. I'm disgusted and in sorrow about the boys we've lost over there. And if I could see a good reason to continue, I wouldn't be here today."
Watch a video of the legendary Earl Scruggs performing his "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" with some friends below.