From the News & Observer:
... Scruggs won international fame initially as the duet partner of guitarist Lester Flatt between 1948 and 1969. The duet and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, lived briefly in Raleigh in 1952 while playing on radio station WPTF.At the time Scruggs achieved stardom, the banjo was an instrument most closely associated with the cornball humor and rowdy songs of traveling medicine shows. In later years, the New York Times famously dubbed him the Paganini of the banjo, a reference to the famed violinist. ...
Scruggs was known nationally and internationally for intricate tunes such as “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” made famous in the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme. He attracted fans all over the world and admirers as diverse as comedian Steve Martin, actress Angelina Jolie and pop-rocker Elton John.
Scruggs had been in poor health for months; his family said his death came as a result of “natural causes.” In January, likely aware of Scruggs’ fragile state, Martin wrote a eulogistic piece for The New Yorker praising the performer who heavily influenced Martin’s own banjo style.
Scruggs, a soft-spoken, modest person who generally found time to give an ear to the fans who wanted just a word with the legendary figure, won virtually every award that popular music could present. From membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame to three Grammy awards to performances at the White House, he was recognized widely as a genius of folk music.
Born Jan. 6, 1924, Scruggs worked around the family farm and in area mills as he developed a more sophisticated, revved-up version of the area’s three-finger banjo style. While in his early 20s, he earned a place, along with Flatt, in the band of Kentucky singer and mandolin master Bill Monroe, another giant figure in the formation of bluegrass.
With Flatt and Scruggs to spur him to new musical heights, Monroe created tremendous musical excitement as the band played regular engagements on the Grand Ole Opry and crisscrossed the South playing auditoriums, country churches and schoolhouses.
In 1948, Flatt and Scruggs went on their own to create a band that would surpass Monroe’s in popularity, both with their original songs and their blazing-fast, intricate picking.
“He was so far ahead of his time, that so many players today are still trying to figure out the little things he did 60 years ago,” Mills said.
Scruggs was the behind-the-scenes business force of the act, working in concert with his business-savvy wife, Louise, who died in 2006. The group toured constantly, moving around the South to bases such as Bristol, Tenn., and Raleigh, where son Randy was born in 1952....
Always a more adventurous musician than Flatt, Scruggs parted ways with the guitarist in 1969 and started a band with sons Randy, Gary and Steve. They perfected a country-rock sound that brought them widespread acceptance in the burgeoning youth culture of the day.
Scruggs was plagued by injuries and left the Earl Scruggs Revue to issue solo records beginning in the 1980s. He and Louise were famous as hosts of picking parties where bold-face names such Chet Atkins and Vince Gill rubbed elbows with new pickers in town and hosts of family members.
Scruggs always remembered North Carolina fondly. His home area is repaying the favor with the development of the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby as a monument to the farm boy who brought fame to the banjo, even as it brought fame to him.