In honor of the late Earl Scruggs, today's (Jan. 11) Google Doodle features a vibrant depiction of the man who revolutionized the three-finger style (or “Scruggs style”) of playing the banjo. The legendary country artist would have been 95 years old this month.
The North Carolina native became an icon of the bluegrass era of the ‘50s and ‘60s, as he helped make his method of playing the all-American banjo a defining part of folk music. He pioneered a new way of playing what was usually a background instrument by using three picks, rather than one — with one pick on his thumb, index finger and middle finger.
Scruggs kicked off his career at 21 years old with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1945. He then formed the Foggy Mountain Boys with guitarist Lester Flatt, which was active from the late 1940s to 1969.
His most well-known songs are the instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," and the theme song for the ‘60s TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett.”
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, he also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
As a tribute to Scrugg’s lasting musical repertoire, Google dedicated the Doodle to the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Earl Scruggs Center, a 10,000-square-foot facility with a museum in his memory in his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina.
In a statement to Google, his son, Gary Scruggs, who partnered with Google on the Doodle, stated what the center means for his father’s legacy.
“Even though my father, Earl Scruggs, passed away before the Earl Scruggs Center opened, he was involved in its planning stages” Gary stated. “It was important for him that the Earl Scruggs Center would serve as more than a museum displaying interesting artifacts and memorabilia, but as an educational facility as well. I very much admired the fact that my Dad was not only a world-class musician, but was also willing and eager to teach his musical skills to anyone asking his advice.”