Who Is Earl Scruggs?
You may not know the name Earl Scruggs, but you certainly know his sounds.
Earl Scruggs, who was born 95 years ago this month, may have passed away years ago, but his contributions to music are so great that he may indeed live on forever. And that’s a fact that even Google wanted to celebrate when they had Scruggs’ image take over their homepage as part of its Google doodle tradition. But, just who is Scruggs anyway?
As Google itself explained, Scruggs is the musician known for developing the “Scruggs style,” which is his very own three-finger picking method that changed banjo playing forever.
Scruggs wasn’t born into greatness, but he certainly created it for himself. According to CNet, Scruggs was born in North Carolina on Jan. 6, 1924, to a musically inclined family. When his father passed away, Scruggs found peace in practicing music, specifically on the banjo. By the time he was 11 years old, Scruggs had already made a name for himself and even performed on the radio.
“It’s just an old hand-me-down,” Scruggs said, according to Google, of his Gibson Granada that both made him famous and the one he played on well into his elder years.
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At the ripe old age of 21, Scruggs got his next taste of fame when he joined the Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys band, CNet explained. The group went on to both coin the term "bluegrass" and popularize the style. Scruggs went on to join vocalist Lester Flat to form Flatt and Scruggs group and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948.
Of course, Google isn’t the only place where Scruggs’ legacy is celebrated. He was also awarded four Grammys, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and National Medal of Arts, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame. But, perhaps most important of all, he was also remembered with the opening of the Earl Scruggs Center in 2014, where people can not only learn more about his legacy but learn his for themselves.
“Even though my father, Earl Scruggs, passed away before the Earl Scruggs Center opened, he was involved in its planning stages,” Scruggs’ son, Gary, shared with Google. “It was important for him that the Earl Scruggs Center would serve as more than a museum displaying interesting artifacts and memorabilia, but as an educational facility as well. I very much admired the fact that my Dad was not only a world-class musician but was also willing and eager to teach his musical skills to anyone asking his advice. His banjo instruction book, Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo, is a testimony to his willingness to share his musical ‘secrets’ with the world. And there’s no doubt, he would be very proud that the Earl Scruggs Center offers educational programs and learning experiences to people of all ages.”
You can go learn from the master yourself by paying the center a visit in Shelby, North Carolina, every Tuesday to Saturday. But, fair warning, you will want to pick up a banjo and start playing immediately.