Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs died yesterday at the age of 88 at a hospital in Nashville, the New York Times confirms. Scruggs’ distinctive picking style on the banjo influenced generations of players and helped define the sound of bluegrass music in the 20th century. His cause of death has not been revealed.
Scruggs is best known for his partnership with guitarist Lester Flatt and their signature hits “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song of the Sixties sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. Scruggs got his start as a member of Bill Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, in 1945.
Scruggs received the National Medal of Arts in 1992, and his recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2005.