Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs dies at age 88

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Scruggs, born Jan. 6, 1924, in Flint Hill, N.C., learned to play banjo at age 4. He appeared at age 11 on a radio talent scout show. By age 15, he was playing in bluegrass bands.

“My music came up from the soil of North Carolina,” Scruggs said in 1996 when he was honored with a heritage award from his home state.

He and Flatt played together in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, then left to form the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948.

Their popularity grew, and they even became a focal point of the folk music revival on college campuses in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Scruggs’ wife, Louise, was their manager and was credited with cannily guiding their career as well as boosting interest in country music.

Later, as rock `n’ roll threatened country music’s popularity, Flatt and Scruggs became symbols of traditional country music.

In the 1982 interview, Scruggs said “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” broadened the scope of bluegrass and country music “more than anything I can put my finger on. Both were hits in so many countries.”

Scruggs also wrote an instructional book, “Earl Scruggs and the Five String Banjo.”

In 1992, Scruggs was among 13 recipients of a National Medal of Art.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought of rewards and presentations,” he said. “I appreciate those things, especially this one.”

Louise Scruggs, his wife of 57 years, died in 2006. He is survived by two sons, Gary and Randy. Gary Scruggs says funeral arrangements are incomplete.

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Associated Press writer Joe Edwards contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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