Bluegrass legend and banjo innovator Earl Scruggs died of natural causes on March 28 at a Nashville hospital. He was 88-years-old.
Scruggs' son, Gary Scruggs who played the bass guitar with his father, said that he had been in failing health for some time, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Scruggs was a four time Grammy Award winner and his "three finger picking style," that would let him play a song's melody and rhythm simultaneously on his banjo, made him very famous.
"I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music," Gary Scruggs told CNN. "It was more than that."
In 1945, Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's and Lester Flatt's band the "Blue Grass Boys." Scruggs and Lester Flatt left Monroe in 1948 and formed the band "The Foggy Mountain Boys." Their song "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" was used in the legendary movie "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967. Flatt & Scruggs were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, six years after Flatt's death.
Scruggs played the banjo in "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" which was the theme song from CBS's popular sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies." The show aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971 and for decades afterward in syndication.
"He helped popularize the banjo and helped change country music," said Neil Portnow, Recording Academy President and Chief Executive, in a statement released after Scruggs death.
Scruggs split up with Flatt in 1969 and continued solo until he created "The Earl Scruggs Revue" together with his three sons. They experimented with the classic banjo sound and played together with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. The band released several albums and toured until 1980.
Actor/comedian and banjo player Steve Martin who recorded a Grammy Award winning song with Scruggs in 2001, called him "the most important banjo player who ever lived" on his Twitter.
Earl Eugene Scruggs was born January 6, 1924, in Flint Hill, N.C., into a musical gifted family. Scruggs started to play the banjo at age four and he developed his "three picking style" at the age of ten reported CNN. Scruggs was married to Anne Louise Certain for over 57 years until she passed away in 2006.
Scruggs is survived by his two sons, Randy and Gary.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun