Earl Scruggs

Induction Year: 2007

Birth Name: Earl Eugene Scruggs

Birth Date: 01-06-1924

Place of Birth: Flint Hill, North Carolina

Death Date: 03-28-2012

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

Earl Scruggs is well known as the man whose three-fingered approach to banjo playing transformed American roots music and helped create the style now called bluegrass. His achievements as a groundbreaking instrumentalist tend to overshadow his contributions as a songwriter, but Scruggs authored songs that are part of the core bluegrass canon, including "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky," "Blue Ridge Cabin Home," "Earl's Breakdown" and "My Saro Jane."

Earl Eugene Scruggs was raised on a farm in the Flint Hill, North Carolina area. His father died when he was four years old, and young Scruggs began playing banjo that year, in 1928. He began developing his three-finger style at age 10, and at 21 he took a job playing banjo with "Lost John" Miller & His Allied Kentuckians. That job led to a successful audition with Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe.

Scruggs made his Opry debut with Monroe in December 1945, and his presence in Monroe's Blue Grass Boys band solidified the sound Monroe had been working to perfect. The night of Scruggs' debut, onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, bluegrass music was born.

"There aren't many earthquakes in Tennessee, but that night there was," Steve Martin (another pretty fair banjo player) wrote in The New Yorker.

In early 1948, Scruggs and guitarist-singer Lester Flatt left Monroe's band and formed their own group, Flatt & Scruggs. The pair began collaborating as songwriters, penning the bluegrass standard "My Cabin in Caroline" in 1948.

Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," an instrumental that would win Grammy Awards in 1969 and 2002, came along in 1950, and would later be covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Roy Clark, Tom T. Hall and many others. Scruggs' only top-charting country hit as a writer was "Crying My Heart Out Over You," a #21 single for Flatt & Scruggs in 1960 that would be revived as a #1 hit for Ricky Skaggs in 1982. (Skaggs also took Scruggs' "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'" into the country music Top 20 in 1981.) But most bluegrass successes take place away from country charts, and numerous Scruggs-penned compositions remain staples at bluegrass concerts and festivals.

Flatt & Scruggs disbanded in 1969, with Scruggs going on to work with his sons in the Earl Scruggs Revue. Flatt & Scruggs entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, and Scruggs was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

"Blue Ridge Cabin Home"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1955 
The Country Gentlemen1971 
The Osborne Brothers1978 
Larry Sparks1982 
The Seldom Scene1991 
Ralph Stanley1992 
David Grisman1999 
John McEuen2000 
Robin & Linda Williams2007 

"Cabin on the Hill"

Flatt & Scruggs1959 #9 country

"Crying My Heart Out Over You"

(written with Lester Flatt, Carl Butler, George Sherry)

Flatt & Scruggs1960 #21 country
Ricky Skaggs1982 #1 country
Jeannie C. Riley1986 
Daniel O'Donnell2002 

"Don't Get Above Your Raisin'"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1951 
Ricky Skaggs1984 #16 country

"Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1954 
The Blue Sky Boys1976 
Porter Wagoner1977 
The Seldom Scene1985 
Jonathan Edwards1997 
The Country Gentlemen2007 

"Down the Road"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1958 
Lester FLatt1970 
Marty Stuart1982 
Dan Fogelberg1985 #33 country
Doc Watson & Merle Watson1998 

"Earl's Breakdown"

Flatt & Scruggs1951 
Eric Weissberg1963 
Gary Scruggs1970 
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band1972 
Carl Jackson1970 
Roy Clark1978 
Josh Graves1982 
Livingston Taylor2006 

"Flint Hill Special"

Flatt & Scruggs1952 
The Lilly Brothers1965 
Benny Martin1976 
Bill Emerson1996 
David Grisam1999 

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

Flatt & Scruggs1950 
Flatt & Scruggs (reissue)1968 #55 pop, #58 country
Doug Dillard1969 
Hank Williams Jr.1969 
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band1969 
The Country Gentlemen1970 
Roy Clark1972 
The Flying Burrito Brothers1974 
Benny Martin1976 
J. D. Crowe1982 
Tom T. Hall1983 
Carl Jackson1983 
Jimmy Martin1988 
The Statler Brothers1989 
The Stray Cats1992 
Bryan Setzer1998 

"Foggy Mountain Chimes"

Flatt & Scruggs1953 
Josh Graves1974 
David Grisman1982 
Herb Pedersen1988 
Larry Stephenson1995 

"God Loves His Children"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1948 
Skeeter Davis1968 
Bernie Leadon1991 
Lou Reid1996 

"Ground Speed"

Flatt & Scruggs1959 

"My Cabin in Caroline"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1948 
Bill Monroe1977 
The Osborne Brothers1992 

"My Saro Jane"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1964 #40 country
The Grascals2005 

"Shuckin' the Corn"

(written with Lester Flatt, Buck Graves)

Flatt & Scruggs1957 
The Kentucky Colonels1964 
The Lilly Brothers1965 
J. D. Crowe1982 
Bela Fleck1988 
Lester Flatt1975 
John McEuen1991 
Ronnie & Rob McCoury1995 
Josh Graves1998 
Roy Clark2005 
Marty Stuart2006 

"Somehow Tonight"

Flatt & Scruggs1951 

"The Legend of the Johnson Boys"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1962 #27 country
Dry Branch Fire Squad1978 
Josh Williams2004 

"We'll Meet Again Sweetheart"

(written with Lester Flatt)

Flatt & Scruggs1958 
J. D. Crowe1968 
Doc Watson1986 
Jim McReynolds1991 
Jimmy Martin2001 
The Osborne Brothers2003 

"Your Love Is Like a Flower"

(written with Lester Flatt, Everett Lilly)

Flatt & Scruggs1953 
The Osborne Brothers1978 
Herb Pedersen1984 
Josh Graves1998 
Vassar Clements2001 
Lou Reid2003 
Dailey & Vincent2009 

Earl Scruggs

Induction Year: 2007