Earl Scruggs, whose distinctive picking style and association with Lester Flatt cemented bluegrass music's place in popular culture, died Wednesday of natural causes at a Nashville hospital, his son Gary Scruggs said. He was 88.
"I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music," Gary Scruggs told CNN. "It was more than that."
Yeah, "way beyond bluegrass and country" -- Scruggs was a virtuoso and experimenter who blended many types of music -- but many of us will be forever grateful for what he brought to bluegrass. He didn't invent three-finger banjo picking (as opposed to the clawhammer technique), but he did the most to popularize it. Bill Monroe is generally given credit as the father of bluegrass, but many argue that it was Scruggs' banjo playing that gave the music its distinctive sound.