Country music industry has lost one of its legends. Bluegrass icon Earl Scruggs, who popularized a 3-finger banjo-picking style, passed away on Wednesday, March 28 morning. According to his son Gary, the Country Music Hall of Famer died of natural causes at the age of 88 in a Nashville, Tennessee hospital.
As news of Scruggs' passing spread, condolences began to pour in from the country music world. Grand Ole Opry tweeted, "We're saddened by Earl Scruggs' passing. He truly helped create the bluegrass sound & we're forever grateful. Prayers for his family," while singer Chely Wright simply wrote, "Rest In Peace, Earl Scruggs. A member of a lovely, talented family."
Banjoist and Punch Brothers member, Noam Pikelny, only has praises for the late musician. "Earl Scruggs was the bedrock. His contributions to banjo & bluegrass are of such mythical proportions that he always seemed immortal to me," he wrote in two tweets. "But the day has come- Earl has passed, leaving a legacy of music that that will delight and inspire for the ages. Mr. Scruggs, thank you."
A number of Hollywood stars also took time to pay tribute. Jackson Rathbone wrote, "My inspiration for learning the banjo... You will be missed," Steve Martin posted, "Earl Scruggs, the most important banjo player who ever lived, has passed on," and Ed Helms tweeted, "Rest in peace Earl Scruggs. An American legend and a personal hero."
Born in Shelby, North Carolina, Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in late 1945. When he left the band in early 1948, he joined forces with Lester Flatt to form the Foggy Mountain Boys. The collaboration lasted until 1969. He then started a new band that features three of his sons, the Earl Scruggs Revue.
Scruggs is best known for "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", which was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2005, and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett", which served as the theme song of '60s TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies." He was inducted together with Flatt in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.