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R.I.P. Earl Scruggs


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So far this year:

Earl Scruggs

Ronnie Montrose

Jimmy Ellis

Davy Jones

Whitney Houston

Eddie King

Etta James

Johnny Otis

John Levy

Ronnie Smith

Betty Barnes

Billy Strange

Michael Hossack

I was also looking at this site thedeadrockstarsclub.com and found out that Gerry Rafferty died last year. I had no idea.

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I grew up on Flatt & Scruggs, they were some pickin' sons of gun! They, Johnny Ford, and the Dillards (you'll remember them as The Darling Family on the old "Andy Griffith Show) kept Bluegrass very alive for me growing up in the 60's and 70's. Earl Scruggs will be missed.

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I'm pretty sure my introduction to bluegrass was via Flatt & Scruggs' appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, not to mention their contributions to the Bonnie & Clyde soundtrack. My sister took me to that movie when I was probably way too young to be seeing that sort of violence on the big screen which is a good reason why I've never forgotten it. Around 1975 an album came out called Old and In the Way that featured Jerry Garcia, John Kahn, David Grisman and Vassar Clements which really perked my ears up to bluegrass. Not so long after that (around '77 or so) I caught the Earl Scruggs Revue on Austin City Limits and was blown away. They released an album from that appearance called Live! From Austin City Limits that one of my brothers picked up on 8-track. Needless to say, that tape got just as much airplay in his truck as Zeppelin II, Foghat, Aerosmith and whatever else we were listening to at the time. The fact that Scruggs had split from Lester Flatt and had fully embraced the sounds of Dylan, the Byrds, Loudon Wainwright III, Guy Clark and others didn't exactly endear him to bluegrass purists. Nor did the fact that he and his sons employed drums in the Earl Scruggs Revue as that instrument was completely unheard of in bluegrass music. Somehow, Earl made it work. A few years later the same brother that had turned me onto Live! From Austin City Limits picked up an another album by Earl, this one was called Earl Scruggs: His Family & Friends. It was the soundtrack to a special that had aired only once on PBS back in the late 60s/early 70s. I never thought I'd see that special but several years ago when I was checking out a going out of business sale at Paradise Records in Fayetteville, NC I happened upon a CD/DVD two-fer that featured that program. It was a huge treat to see that special all those years after the fact as it really sums up so much about Earl Scruggs. It also doesn't hurt that some of his "friends" are Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, and the Byrds. I've included a clip from it below but if you're feeling so inclined, you can watch the entire program here. Believe you me, it's worth every second of it.

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