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Earl Scruggs

Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award

Tens of millions of people came to know Earl Scruggs for spinning a tale of a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed. But while “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” catapulted him and then-partner Lester Flatt to No. 1 in 1962, Scruggs’ legacy had been cemented years before, thanks to a banjo-picking style so unique it’s come to bear his name. Scruggs first made his mark as a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, a combo in which he unveiled a three-finger playing style that revolutionized that genre, and made the North Carolina native an icon to generations of players across the sonic spectrum (including admitted follower Steve Martin). Honored twice by Grammy — for his 1969 recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and the song’s 2001 remake — and by institutions as varied as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Berklee School of Music, Scruggs remains the indisputable ruler of the banjo universe.

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