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R.I.P. Earl Scruggs

Posted by James Reed  March 29, 2012 11:48 AM

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Earl Scruggs at Newport Folk 2011.jpg

Banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs died yesterday at 88, and today the world is mourning his loss.

On Twitter, actor and noted banjo picker Steve Martin called Scruggs "the most important banjo player who ever lived." (Martin's affection and admiration for his idol was particularly apparent in this New Yorker piece a few months ago.) Loretta Lynn chimed in with similar sentiments on her Facebook page: "Earl was in my book the best banjo picker in the world."

Scruggs played almost till the very end, too. I just saw him at Newport Folk Festival last year and was starstruck as I quietly asked if I could take his picture backstage (above).

In a long career that started working alongside Bill Monroe and Lester Flatts before his eclectic work as a bandleader, Scruggs gave us plenty of memorable music. And it lives on through his numerous records and wonderful clips like these:

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