Earl Scruggs, bluegrass fingerpicker, passes at 88

Sad, sad news today, folks. Elder statesman of country and bluegrass, banjo-player extraordinaire Earl Scruggs passed away early Wednesday morning.

It's just been reported that the Country Music Hall of Famer died yesterday morning at a Nashville hospital at the age of 88. Scruggs, who along with Lester Flatt formed one of the most influential bluegrass outfits of all time, started out his career as Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys' signature three-finger banjo picker.

His style transformed not only traditional takes on bluegrass, but also inspired generations of country and country-rock performers, most importantly via his enthusiasm for adopting genre- (and generation-) bending styles. It's been noted that he alienated his musical bud Lester Flatt by advocating for covering early Dylan songs and wanting to connect the dots between the songsmith's folk and their own more traditional brand of country, the result of which was Scruggs' progressive (and Flatt-less) group the Earl Scruggs Review.

While Scruggs is the epitome of what is absolutely classic in bluegrass, his mark will likely be most keenly felt in his ability to be that cool "with it" guy, the guy with his finger to the pulse of music no matter what his age, no matter what his original influences.

Read more of our own take on Scruggs' career here - in honor of his 87th birthday last year - as well as at The Tennessean, which has offered a comprehensive review of his career and promises an even more detailed dedication sometime today.

Casual fans and adamant country foes alike have likely heard Scruggs as "the boy who made the banjo talk" - thanks to Opry founder George D. Hay for these apt words - performing the theme music to the Beverly Hillbillies.

Rest in peace, Earl Scruggs. 

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