Earl Scruggs

January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012

There are banjo players…and then there’s THE banjo player.

Earl Eugene Scruggs not only reinvented how the instrument was used, but he opened the door for an entire new genre of music. As a young man, Earl joined the fabled Blue Grass Boys (led by the legendary Bill Monroe) where his patented 3-finger picking style helped shape and define the band’s sound. “Bluegrass” would eventually become an entire sub-genre in Country music and many of the sounds that came from the Blue Grass Boys became archetypes for the style. Maybe none more so than Scruggs’ fast-paced, solo banjo picking.

After a couple of years of rigorous and non-stop touring, Scruggs left the band despite having helped its popularity soar. Around the same time, the band’s Guitar player, Lester Flatt, also left. Monroe accused them of conspiring to damage the band, but both men denied knowing the other’s plan. Regardless of the circumstances of their departures, Flatt and Scruggs soon teamed up to form their own band…and cement their own place in Bluegrass history. The successful partnership led to albums, hit songs, Grammy awards and appearances in films like 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. But, the highwater mark was arguably their 1962 recording of the song “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” which was used for the new sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies. The song became a #1 hit and is still, today, of the most iconic theme songs of all time.

Earl Scruggs’ career spanned more than half a century. After Flatt and Scruggs broke up, he continued to work with the ever-changing landscape of artists and styles. He was enamored with all types of music and played as long as he could with whomever he wanted. He died at the age of 88 in Nashville. His funeral was held at the historic Ryman Auditorium – the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.


Spring Hill Cemetery – Nashville, TN

Specific Location

Enter the cemetery and turn right. Find the Roy Acuff memorial immediately to your left. Earl is buried a few rows behind Roy.


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