R.I.P – Earl Scruggs – An American Treasure

Earl Scruggs at WLYX - 1974

Earl Scruggs at WLYX - 1974 (C)Joe Spake -all rights reserved

I first heard Earl Scruggs playing on TV for Martha White Flour with long time partner Lester Flatt – The Flatt and Scruggs show came on on Saturday evenings in the 1950s and 1960s, I believe. Even though I was too young to really appreciate the music fully, I was glued to the old TV set.  All these years later, that Martha White jingle is still top of mind.

Even though Earl’s progressive Bluegrass style created a milestone in American music, He went on to do some more progressive music with his sons in the Earl Scruggs Review in the mid 1970s.  I met him, interviewed him, and he spent a lot of time with us at WLYX-FM, Southwestern College’s (now Rhodes) Radio Station (picture above).

You may know his music from 1960s movie, Bonnie and Clyde or the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies, but Earl Scruggs 3-finger style was completely unique and revolutionized banjo music and the Bluegrass genre.  Here’s an example from the old Flatt and Scruggs Show.

By the way, if my Father had lived he would have been the same age as Earl.  They were from the same home town, Shelby, North Carolina.  I wonder if they knew each other.

Oh, and you might not believe this, but that skinny kid with Earl Scruggs in this pic is me.

Joe Spake and Earl Scruggs

(c) Joe Spake - all rights reserved


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