Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 88. The cause of his death has been attributed to natural causes.
Earl Scruggs, who changed the course of country music in the 1940s withand guitarist Lester Flatt, died on the morning of Wednesday, March 28, at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. His son, Gary, said in a statement that his father died of natural causes.
Born in 1924 to a musically gifted family in rural Cleveland County, North Carolina, Earl Scruggs was a country music legend who developed his own style of banjo playing. His innovative style of using his three fingers instead of the claw hammer on the banjo attracted the attention of Bill Monroe in 1945 and he took him under his wing.
"The banjo was, for all practical purposes, 'reborn' as a musical instrument," reads the biography on Scruggs’ official website. "Due to the talent and prominence Earl Scruggs gave to the instrument."
The legendary performer was still playing in Monroe’s band when he met guitarist and mandolin player Lester Flatt. Three years later, Earl Scruggs formed the Foggy Mountain Boys with Flatt and they were popularly known as “Flatt & Scruggs”.
The band was best known for the 1949 instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" played in the 1967 movie "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett", which became the theme of "The Beverly Hillbillies", the popular TV series that debuted in 1962. They also performed other hits like The Monkees' hit "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Nashville Skyline Rag”.
Life-time achievement award recipient Earl Scruggs continued to perform on his own after the death of Lester Flatt in 1979. Ten years ago, Scruggs won a Grammy Award for a recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", which featured Steve Martin,, , , and Marty Stuart.
"I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music," his son, Gary Scruggs, told CNN. "It was more than that."
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said Earl Scruggs "leaves an indelible legacy that will be remembered for generations to come."
Four-time Grammy winner Earl Scruggs is survived by two sons, Gary and Randy. Louise, his wife of 57 years, died in 2006. Flowers will be placed on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday.