Today we mourn the loss of banjo player Earl Scruggs, as important to country music as, say Muddy Waters was to blues, who died Wednesday in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.
(Earl with Marty Stuart at Merlefest in 2001. Photo from Earlscruggs.com)
Scruggs, who started recording in the 1940s, did for the five-string banjo what Miles Davis did for the trumpet, Hendrix did for the guitar and what Elvis did for hollering into a microphone. The Scruggs sound, based on his rapid three-finger style of picking, has become the sound we expect a banjo to make.
Here he is in the good ol’ days:
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Bluegrass music lives on Scruggs. No Scruggs, no bluegrass as we know it.
So long, Earl. And thanks.