Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs in 1982. Photo by Mark Humphrey

Earl’s Breakdown, Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs was reckless. His banjo rolls were unworldly, almost too fast. It had a careening feel to it, as if it would jump the rails at any moment. This was wild man music belied by his restrained physical stage presence. Whatever he felt was communicated through that banjo (occasionally guitar) and a sly crooked smile.

That wild man though, shone through his eyes. Earl Scruggs was one of those people that had a bright light, a joy that came through while he played. I always had the feeling that after a show or a long tour when he was finally home and off by himself collecting his thoughts he would play that banjo even though no one else was around, perhaps especially because no one else was around.

Earl Scruggs, like his one-time partners Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt, like Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton and Ella Fitzgerald and Cole Porter and Johnny Cash defined American music in all it’s complexity and beauty. I am beyond grateful.

If you wear a hat, wear it cocked.

Georgia Buck; Earl Scruggs…on guitar.

January 6, 1924 - March 28, 2012

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About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Music, Radio and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Earl Scruggs

  1. Bruce says:

    I saw him perform with his sons a few years ago, he still had it – the banjo playing and the humor. Glad I did.

    The banjo and that couch seem mutually exclusive.

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