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Earl Scruggs, Legendary Banjo Player, Dies at 88 [VIDEO]

Earl Scruggs in 2009 (Michael Buckner/Getty)

Have you heard ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ or ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’?

That’s Earl Scruggs playing the banjo with his long-time partner Lester Flatt. Scruggs died on Wednesday, March 28, in a Nashville, Tennessee hospital at the age of 88.

Scruggs pioneered the three-finger style of playing that helped popularize the banjo as a lead instrument. I learned the news of Scrugg’s death in a tweet from comedian Steve Martin, also a banjo player, who played on the 2001 album ‘Earl Scruggs and Friends.’ Other guests on that release include John Fogerty, Don Henley and Elton John. Martin tweeted “Earl Scruggs, the most important banjo player who ever lived, has passed on.

Some of Scrugg’s best known songs were used in other media, ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ was the theme song to ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ TV show,with Jerry Scoggins singing. ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ was used in the 1967 movie ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’

Scruggs was born January 6, 1924 in Flint Hill, North Carolina. He learned to play the banjo at the age of 4 and by 15 he was in his first bluegrass band.

He became of member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys along with Lester Flatt and they both left the band in 1948 to form The Foggy Mountain Boys.

Lester Flatt passed away in 1979.

Here’s a YouTube video from the ‘Earl Scruggs and Friends’ sessions as we remember legendary banjo picker Earl Scruggs.

\’Earl Scruggs and Friends\’ (YouTube)

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