Earl Scruggs, Country Music Hall of Famer and Bluegrass Legend, Dies at 88

Banjo innovator Earl Scruggs was responsible for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”

Earl Scruggs, one half of the duo Flatt and Scruggs, banjo pioneer and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, died Wednesday in a Nashville, Tenn., hospital. He was 88.

Scruggs' son Gary told the Associated Press that his father died of natural causes.

Born in Shelby, N.C., Scruggs first gained prominence in the 1940s as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. While with Monroe, Scruggs popularized the syncopated, three-finger style of banjo playing that would subsequently become known as the "Scruggs style."

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Scruggs paired with fellow Monroe band member Lester Flatt later in the decade to form Flatt and Scruggs. Though the group won a Grammy Award in 1969 for Scruggs' instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," the group is probably best known to a general audience for "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," which became the theme song for the sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies." The duo appeared numerous times on the series.

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Flatt and Scruggs were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

Scruggs would go on to win a second Grammy in 2002, for a 2001 version of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" recorded with an ensemble that included comedian Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, Paul Shaffer, Leon Russell and Marty Stuart.