Earl Scruggs Biography

6 January 1924, Cleveland County, North Carolina, USA. Scruggs was raised in the Appalachian Mountains, and learned to play banjo from the age of five. In 1944, he joined Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, where he perfected his three-finger banjo technique. He later left with fellow member Lester Flatt, to form the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948. They enjoyed a long career spanning 20 years, and were reportedly only outsold during the 60s, on CBS Records, by Johnny Cash. The duo became synonymous with their recordings of ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’, which was used in the filmBonnie And Clyde and ‘The Ballad Of Jed Clampett’, which was the theme tune for the television seriesThe Beverly Hillbillies.

In 1969, after Flatt and Scruggs parted company, the Earl Scruggs Revue was formed featuring Earl (banjo, vocals), and his sons, Randy (b. 3 August 1953, Nashville, Tennessee, USA; lead guitar, slide guitar, bass, vocals), Gary (b. 18 May 1949, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; bass, harmonica, vocals), Steve (b. 8 February 1958, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, d. 23 September 1992; guitar), plus Josh Graves (dobro, guitar, vocals) and Jody Maphis (b. 18 August 1954; drums, vocals). His Family And Friends, which comes from a 1971 National Educational Television Soundtrack, included guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the Byrds. Anniversary Special, Volume 1 included a broad line-up from the music scene, including Roger McGuinn and Dan Fogelberg. Graves left the group during the mid-70s to pursue a solo career. Scruggs’ innovation in taking traditional fiddle tunes and transposing them for playing on banjo helped push back the boundaries of bluegrass, and paved the way for the later ‘newgrass’ revival.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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