Earl Scruggs - banjo; Gary Scruggs - bass, harmonica; Vassar Clements - fiddle; Josh Graves - dobro; Randy Scruggs - guitars; Jody Maphis - drums
Earl Scruggs is one of America's all-time greatest Bluegrass icons. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Grammys, and he continued to perform with his sons as the Earl Scruggs Revue until shortly before his death in March of 2012. Having perfected a three finger style of banjo playing (aptly called the "Scruggs style"), he has recorded or performed on hundreds of popular bluegrass and country albums.
This show, recorded Scranton in 1972, is an excellent—though brief—example of what the Scruggs Revue was like in its infancy. Because he was playing with his sons who were in their 20s at the time and had deeply embraced folk, rock, pop as well as country, Scruggs had moved into a radically different direction; one that was more modern and in-tune with the music of those times.
Opening with "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (But Nobody Wants To Die)" a great country song written by country-blues legend Don Nix, the Earl Scruggs Revue shines (especially with the joined musicianship of sons Gary and Randy Scruggs). Also on board for many years is fiddler Vassar Clements, who later would make a brilliant country blues album with Jerry Garcia entitled Old & In The Way.
Born in North Carolina in 1924, Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1945. Monroe is considered the godfather of bluegrass, and Scruggs couldn't have had a better environment to hone his craft.
In 1948, Scruggs and a guitarist in Monroe's group named Lester Flatt left to form their own duo: Flatt & Scruggs. They soon formed a group around the duo, called the Foggy Mountain Boys, and within a couple of years were the hottest act in bluegrass. They saw their biggest commercial success when they recorded the theme to the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies in 1963, and three years later, when Warren Beatty asked them to score the music to his upcoming gangster film, Bonnie and Clyde. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" became a bluegrass instrumental smash and Scruggs' signature song.
Flatt & Scruggs stayed together for 22 years by the time the parted in 1970. They stopped performing the previous year, but remained a professional duo long enough to finish one more release for Sony Music. The duo had been arguing over musical direction, with Scruggs wanting to explore pop, rock, jazz and country and Flatt wanting to remain a traditional bluegrass band. The split was not amicable and Flatt kept most of the Foggy Mountain Boys as members for his group; while Scruggs formed the Earl Scruggs Revue with his sons, former Foggy Mountain Boys member Josh Graves, and Vassar Clements.