1924 – Banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs is born in Flint Hill, N.C. You can hear him playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on the soundtrack to Bonnie & Clyde.
Earl Eugene Scruggs (born January 6, 1924) is a musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger style (now called Scruggs style) on the 5-string banjo that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. Although other musicians had played in 3-finger style before him, Scruggs shot to prominence when he was hired by Bill Monroe to fill the banjo slot in the “Blue Grass Boys”. Scruggs built on earlier styles to develop a truly new and readily identifiable style, involving: unprecedented smoothness, syncopation, and uninterrupted flow; a large vocabulary of unique and original licks; blues and jazz phrases, evident in backup and in solos such as “Foggy Mountain Special;” and an overall coherency and polish that other stylists lacked, which readily inspired imitation by newer generations of banjo pickers.
Flatt and Scruggs won a Grammy Award in 1969 for Scruggs’ instrumental “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”. They were inducted together into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1989, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship. Scruggs was an inaugural inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991.
In 2002 Scruggs won a second Grammy award for the 2001 recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, which featured artists such as Steve Martin on 2nd banjo solo (Martin played the banjo tune on his 1970s stand-up comic acts), Vince Gill and Albert Lee on electric guitar solos, Paul Shaffer on piano, Leon Russell on organ, and Marty Stuart on mandolin. The album, Earl Scruggs and Friends, also featured artists such as John Fogerty, Elton John, Sting, Johnny Cash, Don Henley, Travis Tritt, and Billy Bob Thornton. Earl Scruggs and Friends (MCA Nashville, 2001).
On February 13, 2003, Scruggs received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, he and Flatt were ranked #24 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.
On February 10, 2008, Scruggs was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.