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Earl Scruggs And The Five String Banjo - |

Earl Scruggs And The Five String Banjo

Essential Earl Scruggs


Recently the world lost one of America’s finest and most original musicians – the champion of the five string banjo, Mr. Earl Scruggs.  Before there was Earl Scruggs there was only cartoonish lampooning of Appalachian people and the banjo as an instrument.  What I can say here without reservation is that anyone who denigrates another person’s culture is only denigrating themselves, and proving their lack of respect or worth by their own comments.  Before Earl Scruggs came along – the banjo was a comedian’s prop used only to make fun of the self sufficient people’s of the Appalachian mountains.

Earl Scruggs never cared a bit about the ways in which the weak minds portrayed Appalachian people or the five string banjo – and this, my friends, is the very essence of what is cool. He took the musical world by storm and with great innovation, and created his own style of music and play on an instrument that had never before been a lead instrument.

America has two primary musical forms that originated here, one of those is jazz, and the other is bluegrass.  Without Earl Scruggs – we’d not have the bluegrass music we have today.  The Scruggs Style of playing the banjo was not totally unique – but without Earl Scruggs it would have never been explored so thoroughly and with so much passion.  Earl Scruggs, however, was far more than merely a five string banjo virtuoso who played bluegrass.  Ear Scruggs was an outright pioneer that sought to send traditional Appalachian music far beyond what it was in the 1940′s.  While Scruggs had become famous by first playing with Bill Monroe, and later with partner Lester Flatt – both of those ensembles were dismantled precisely because they stifled the great Earl Scruggs.  Earl seemed to find greater kinship with “those long haired hippies” in bands such as The Byrds and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band than he ever did with Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe – and not surprisingly, Scuggs did things that none of the conservative types in traditional music would ever do, he protested the war in Vietnam, and showed all manner of support for ending that hideous slaughter in every way he had available to him.

Besides being a musical pioneer and an instrumental virtuoso – Earl Scruggs was clearly a great man.

As a huge acoustic guitar enthusiast – I think my opinions here are very valid, and for persons who would like to hear what I think of as Earl Scruggs’ finest moments, well here they are!  Not only does Scruggs play along side virtuoso guitarist Doc Watson, but an entire plethora of genius traditionalist and trailblazers of the acoustic music variety in the three Will The Circle Be Unbroken collaborations.

The above, of course, is merely my opinion and pics for what I think best represents the music of Earl Scruggs.  I’m not the most traditional sort of person you’ll ever meet or read online, so the earlier works of Flatt and Scruggs might be more what some folks will remember.  If you really are more into music from around the time of the second world war, then the music of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys or Flatt and Scruggs would be more what you are looking for.

Ear Scruggs has had large tribute concerts held in his honor, won several Grammy awards, and recorded with a large cornucopia of talented singers and musicians, including but not limited to the following: John FogertyElton JohnStingJohnny CashDon HenleyTravis Tritt,  Billy Bob ThorntonMarty StuartLeon Russell , Paul ShafferAlbert LeeVince Gill, and Steve Martin.  It is also very safe to say here that without Earl Scruggs, fusion bands such as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones would never have existed.  Lets all put our hands together and stamp our feet to the rhythm of the accomplishments and celebration of the life of Earl Scruggs!!!!!!!


Earl Scruggs – Musical Pioneer.

Further reading concerning the musical genius of the late Earl Scruggs.

Rating by Wesman Todd Shaw: 3.5 stars


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  • Article by Wesman Todd Shaw

    avatar A Texas native, I love music, history, science, and good food. More than any of that, I love good friends and good conversation. I'm a bit overly into debating on the web, it's just irresistible to me sometimes. I have a long history with acoustic guitars, and love those things above most others. If you also love acoustic guitars, then I am a resource you should enjoy, but I also would like to prove myself useful to you, and in other ways still.
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