Thursday, March 29, 2012

Farewell, Earl...

The legend enjoying the stage with his son, Gary

By now, you've probably heard that THE Banjo Man, Earl Eugene Scruggs, died Wednesday, March 28th at the age of 88.  I've read many, many tributes to Earl and his influence today in various websites, and all over Facebook, and I'm sure there will be more and more tributes over the coming days and weeks.  Generally, I think the word "legend" might be thrown around a bit too liberally, but there's absolutely no doubt that "legend" fits perfectly when describing Earl Scruggs.  He may not have been the first to try the three-finger style of picking on the banjo, but he's the one who brought that style to the forefront, and pretty much made it his own (a/k/a "Scruggs-style" picking).  In fact, Earl literally wrote the book on the banjo -- Earl Scruggs And The Five-String Banjo -- 44 years after it was first published, this book is still in print, and is still being used as a learning tool by novice and more advanced banjo pickers all over the world.  Amazing.

The "classic" Foggy Mountain Boys -- the perfect Bluegrass band
If you've not had a chance to read any of the obituaries and tributes posted today, here are a few links.

From the New York Times:

From CNN (including a video clip of Earl getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003):

From The Guardian (UK):

A very nice tribute in Nashville's Tennessean:

The NBC Nightly News:

Earl's time on this Earth may have passed, but his influence will live on as long as anyone picks up a banjo.  Jim will join you with a slightly-shortened BG Cafe this Sunday (4-6:30PM, I believe), and while I don't KNOW this for certain, I might wager that you'll hear a boatload of tremendous music from legendary Earl Scruggs.  Sure hope you can tune in...


It was announced today that the Celebration of Life ceremony for Earl Scruggs will be held on Sunday, April 1st at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  This is the same historic stage where the world was first introduced to "Scruggs-style" picking when Earl joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys at the Grand Ole Opry.  WSM broadcast that first performance in December 1945, and on Sunday, they'll broadcast the Celebration of Life ceremony, too.  It begins at 3PM Eastern (2PM Central), and can be listened to all over the world:

Another listening option for next week on WSM is Wednesday's "Eddie Stubbs Show."  On that night, Eddie will devote 3 hours of his program to the life, times, and music of Earl Scruggs.  This special tribute will air from 9PM-midnight (Eastern time), also at

The online tributes continue to Earl they should.  While most of these tributes recognize Earl as the Banjo King, a segment on NPR today highlighted Earl's fabulous  guitar playing...especially in the great Foggy Mountain Boys Quartets.  In the first Flatt & Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys session as a band in the fall of 1948, they recorded a song co-written by Lester and Earl which would become a BG gospel classic, "God Loves His Children."  Here's a link to NPR's story:

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