It may be impossible to overstate the importance of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs to American music. A pioneering banjo player who helped create modern country music, his sound is instantly recognizable and as intrinsically wrapped in the tapestry of the genre as Johnny Cash's baritone
or Hank Williams' heartbreak. His most recognizable compositions are "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" which was used as the chase theme in the movie "Bonnie and Clyde" and the theme song for the TV show "Beverly Hillbillies". In an article in the New Yorker in January, Steve Martin wrote, "A grand part of American music owes a debt to Earl Scruggs. Few players have changed the way we hear an instrument the way Earl has, putting him in a category with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix." Country great Porter Wagoner probably summed up Scruggs' importance best of all: "I always felt like Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball. He is the best there ever was, and the best there ever will be."
Dave Rawlings, a Nashville singer-songwriter and producer, says Scruggs remains every bit as influential and fresh seven decades later. He said it's impossible to imagine nearly every guitar player mimicking Jimi Hendrix, but with Scruggs and the banjo, that's the reality. "The breadth and clarity of the instrument was increased so much," he said. "He invented a style that now probably 75 percent of the people that play the banjo in the world play Scruggs-style banjo. And that's a staggering thing to do, to play an instrument and change what everyone is doing." Tuesday night, April 3rd, The Bluegrass Junction will pay tribute to Scruggs who died Wednesday morning at age 88 of natural causes.