Friday Five: Earl Scruggs

Juli Thanki | January 6th, 2012

Earl Scruggs turns 88 today, so to celebrate the five-string legend—who is also a mighty fine guitar player and singer—we reached out to a few of the myriad banjo players he’s has influenced over the past sixty-plus years and asked them to select their favorite Scruggs tune. Give a listen to the four songs below while you check out the Tennessean‘s Scruggs photo gallery, and tell us: what’s your personal favorite Earl Scruggs song? This morning, mine is “Ground Speed.”

 

Eric Gibson: My favorite is “Flint Hill Special” because Earl’s recording of it on the Carnegie Hall album is what hooked me on banjo. His playing was electric and the crowd’s reaction sent a chill up my spine. I love how he and the band obliged and played through the song again. Earl knew how to tickle your ear with his playing, and I think “Flint Hill Special” is a perfect example.

 

Joe Newberry: Banjo: “Pike County Breakdown.” I love the insistent nature of this tune. It has great lead lines, and also showcases his great back up playing while other breaks are happening.

 

Guitar: “You Are My Flower.” Because, next to Maybelle Carter, it’s the best.

 

Lee Marcus: My personal favorite Earl Scruggs tune is “Reuben.” It is one of the simplest, yet most soulful banjo instrumentals written thus far. And no one can play it with more soul than Mr. Scruggs.

1 Ping

  1. [...] from the Tennessean and New York Times, remembrances from Terry Baucom and Mac Wiseman, and a Friday Five from our archives in which we asked a few banjo players to pick their favorite Scruggs tune. A [...]
  1. Steve Timmes
    January 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    All of His songs are of equal greatness but one of my most favorites is his playing on Fireball Mail.

  2. Bill Hare
    January 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Flint Hill (first cut), GroundSpeed, the list is endless, like Earl’s talent!

  3. Bill Hare
    January 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Flint Hill, Randy Lynn, GroundSpeed.

  4. Nathan Green
    January 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    My favorite is ” My Little Girl In Tennessee” and “Down the Road” the breaks and mostly the backup of Scruggs is awesome. Never putting my banjo down because of Earl Scruggs. Thank you so much.

  5. Paul W Dennis
    January 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Probably “Song of The South” with Tom T Hall and the original recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” as recorded for Mercury in 1949

  6. Phil
    January 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    My favourite is Old Salty Dog

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