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Earl Scruggs, RIP

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This is very sad. Scruggs was one of the last connections to the first days of bluegrass and one of the most innovative, not only in his style of banjo picking but in his willingness to change with the times.

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  • Desert Rat

    Through my country music loving parents, I knew who Earl Scruggs was…but I didn’t realize how much he’d done, who he worked with, or how he innovated the playing of the instrument. Nice link, and yes, it’s quite clear we lost a great musician and a pretty good human being, by all appearances.

    Sounds to me like I may want to dig up some of his music.

  • howard

    Always sad when a giant passes.

  • Richard

    Very sad. I’m glad that I got to see him live a half dozen times. A giant

  • dp

    There aren’t many folks who create an entire style of playing an instrument. The world is a poorer place without him.

  • Paul Gottlieb

    Although he didn’t invent bluegrass banjo all by himself, Scruggs was so influential that the history of the banjo can be neatly divided into two periods: Before Scruggs and After Scruggs. He never seemed to lose his openness to new musical influences and also came across as a genuinely nice guy. It really feels as if we’ve lost one of our connections to the days when giants walked the earth

  • HP

    If I controlled the thoughts of people, the thing I would do is inform people that Bluegrass is postwar, modern, urban music. Earl Scruggs is more like Charlie Parker than he is like Vernon Dahlhart.

    Living, as I do, in bluegrass country, I run into people all the time who are convinced that Blugrass music is some sort of traditional, authentic expression with roots in the 19th c., instead of a thoroughly modern music forged in the steel mills and factories of the industrial north in the aftermath of WWII.

    Rest in peace, Earl.

    • Anonymous

      just ask the ghost of Uncle Dave Macon

  • BF

  • c u n d gulag

    Yes, Earl Scruggs was ALL of that! I love Bluegrass music (and classic C&W; modern C&W – uhm… not so much).

    AND – he was one of the few Bluegrass or C&W musicians to oppose the Vietnam War, and played at anti-war rallies.
    Plus, he was open to new forms of music.

    I’ll pay him one of the greatest compliment that I can – he had a lot of Pete Seeger in him.

    R.I.P.

    • Davis

      Yes, I remember him playing at an anti-war rally in DC.

  • Ronnie P

    Martha White – Hot Rize for Better Baking.

  • rbcoover

    Jaw-dropping technique and a great openmindedness in music and life.

  • Halloween Jack

    Steve Martin (who’s quite the impressive banjo player himself, although most people may only know his playing as a comedy prop from his stand-up days) wrote this tribute to Scruggs in the New Yorker last January, and has also played with Scruggs in the relatively recent past; you can find clips of them together on Letterman in YouTube, such as this one with a pretty impressive line-up of co-stars.

  • ino shinola

    There’s a list of twentieth century musicians who people heard and their life literally changed – Louis Armstrong, Dylan, Charlie Parker, Django, Elvis, The Beatles, Eubie Blake, Hank Williams…

    Earl belongs on a very short version of that list.

    I respect him for his progressive world view and getting to know Bob Dylan and all. I idolize him for what he learned to do with the banjo when he was a youngster.

    A good man, a great musician, the world’s a better place because of him.

    (Also, what HP said)

    • Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Jimi Hendrix…. It is a pretty list to contemplate, and Scruggs is right up there.

      • Richard

        Dont forget Bill Monroe. Bill had envisioned bluegrass as we know it now in his mind for years. It came to life when he hired Earl in late 1945 and made those first epochal recordings with Lester and Earl in 1946

  • Western Dave

    on a related note, Loomis where the hell are you at ASEH? Our panels ran at the same time this morning and I’ve been trying to find you since. When are you holding court for your legions of admirers so we can honor your greatness buy you a drink.

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