Pioneering banjo player Earl Scruggs, who is widely renowned to have modernised country music, has died aged 88. The musician died of natural causes at a Nashville hospital on Wednesday 28 March.
Scruggs was known for his unique banjo playing technique, which involved just three fingers. This technique later became known as the 'Scruggs picking style'. In 1948, Scruggs teamed up with Lester Flatt to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, also known as Flatt and Scruggs. The duo cemented bluegrass music's place in popular culture; one of their most well known records included Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which featured in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde.
In 1992, Scruggs was among 13 recipients of a National Medal of Arts, and in 2005 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' was selected for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. Hollywood actor and fellow banjo player Steve Martin states that, 'a grand part of American music owes a debt to Earl Scruggs. Few players have changed the way we hear an instrument the way Earl has, putting him in a category with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix'.