In my absence last week I missed the passing of a bluegrass legend. On Wednesday we lost the great Earl Scruggs at the age of 88. He was a pioneering banjo player who helped create modern country music. His string bending techniques and the way that he was able to pick that banjo helped transform the sound of the instrument and brought a whole new group of music lovers to the bluegrass scene.
A quick background, he was born in Shelby North Carolina in 1924. He was completely self taught and became famous after he joined the Blue Grass Boys in 1945. It was here where his three finger picking style became so popular. In 1948 he and guitarist Lester Flatt left the Blue Grass Boys and formed the Foggy Mountain Boys, later known simply as Flatt and Scruggs. They took home a Grammy in 1969 for "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and were inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. After that he managed to eek out three more Grammys, one in 1998, another in 2001 and finally the last in 2004.
Here is the great "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" version that is widely regarded as one of the greatest instrumentals ever recorded. This 1949 rendition was used in the movie Bonnie and Clyde. It was re-recorded after the movie.