Foggy Mountain Boys

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Foggy Mountain Boys
Genres Bluegrass, Country
Years active 1948–1970
Past members Lester Flatt
Earl Scruggs

The Foggy Mountain Boys was an American bluegrass band. The band was founded by guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs and is viewed by music historians as one of the premier bluegrass groups in the history of the genre.[1] The band was originally formed in 1948 by Flatt, who had been a member of Bill Monroe's bluegrass band. Flatt brought Scruggs with him shortly after leaving Monroe.[2]

Flatt and Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys (in various forms and line-ups) recorded and performed together up until 1969.[1] The Foggy Mountain Boys are seen as one of the landmark bands in bluegrass music. Although it featured various casts, during the years of The Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs Grand Ole Opry Show, notably sponsored by grain and flour producer Martha White, the band showcased fiddle player Paul Warren, a master player both Old-Time and Bluegrass fiddling styles, whose technique reflected all qualitative aspects of 'the bluegrass breakdown' and fast bowing style; dobro player Uncle Josh Graves, an innovator of the advanced playing style of the instrument now used in the genre, stand-up bass player Cousin Jake Tullock, and mandolinist Curly Seckler.[1] Scruggs is widely considered the most influential player of the bluegrass banjo who ever lived. Playing since the age of five, Scruggs gained his initial spotlight when he played briefly with Bill Monroe, considered by many as the father of bluegrass music. His lightening fast syncopation and virtuosity wove themselves into an innovative three finger picking style that became the standard for mastering the instrument.

Biography[edit]

Lester Flatt worked for Monroe at the time Earl Scruggs was considered for Bill Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys, in 1946. The two left that band early in 1948, and within a few months had formed the Foggy Mountain Boys. Scruggs' banjo style and Flatt's rhythm guitar style as well as his vocals, gave them a distinctive sound that won them many fans. In 1955, they became members of the Grand Ole Opry.[2] Many of the songs on their albums are credited to "Certain and Stacey". These songs were in fact written by Flatt, Scruggs, and various other members of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Certain and Stacey are the maiden names of the wives of Flatt and Scruggs (Louise Certain, wife of Earl Scruggs, and Gladys Stacey, wife of Lester Flatt).

Scruggs, who had always shown progressive tendencies, experimented on duets with saxophonist King Curtis and added songs by the likes of Bob Dylan to the group's repertoire. Flatt, a traditionalist, did not like these changes, and the group broke up in 1969.[2] Following the breakup, Lester Flatt founded the Nashville Grass and Scruggs led the Earl Scruggs Revue. Flatt died in 1979, at the age of 64. Flatt and Scruggs were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

In 2003, they ranked No. 24 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music, one of only four non-solo artists to make the list (The Eagles, Alabama, and Brooks & Dunn are the others).

In the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the band formed by the heroes is called the "Soggy Bottom Boys" as a tribute to the band.

Scruggs died from natural causes on March 28, 2012, in a Nashville hospital.[3][4]

Members[edit]

Notable songs[edit]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US
1957 Foggy Mountain Jamboree Columbia
1958 Country Music Mercury
1959 Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
1960 Songs of Glory Columbia
1961 Foggy Mountain Banjo
Songs of the Famous Carter Family
1962 Folk Songs of Our Land
1963 Hard Travelin' (The Ballad of Jed Clampett) 115
The Original Sound Mercury
Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall 7 134 Columbia
1964 Recorded Live at Vanderbilt University 10
The Fabulous Sound of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs 2
1965 The Versatile Flatt & Scruggs
Great Original Recordings
1966 Town and Country 15
When the Saints Go Marching In
Flatt & Scruggs' Greatest Hits 34
Sacred Songs
1967 Strictly Instrumental (w/ Doc Watson)
Hear the Whistles Blow 37
1968 Changin' Times featuring Foggy Mountain Breakdown 7
Songs to Cherish
Original Theme From Bonnie & Clyde 26
The Story of Bonnie & Clyde 23 187
Nashville Airplane 35
1970 Final Fling 45
Breaking Out 35

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country US CAN Country CAN
1949 "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" 9 singles only
1952 "'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered" 9
1959 "Cabin in the Hills" 9
1960 "Crying My Heart Out Over You" 21
1961 "Polka on a Banjo" 12
"Go Home" 10
1962 "Just Ain't" 16
"The Legend of the Johnson Boys" 27 Folk Songs of Our Land
"The Ballad of Jed Clampett" 1 44 Hard Travelin' (The Ballad of Jed Clampett)
1963 "Pearl Pearl Pearl" 8 113 singles only
"New York Town" 26
1964 "You Are My Flower" 12 Recorded Live at Vanderbilt University
"My Sara Jane" 40 singles only
"Petticoat Junction" 14
"Workin' It Out" 21
1965 "I Still Miss Someone" 43 The Versatile Flatt & Scruggs
1967 "Nashville Cats" 54 singles only
"California Up Tight Band" 20
1968 "Down in the Flood" 45 15 Changing Times featuring
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" 58 55 90
"Like a Rolling Stone" 58 125 Nashville Airplane

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Neil V. (1998), "Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys", The Encyclopedia of Country Music, Oxford University Press, pp. 173-4
  2. ^ a b c Browne, Ray B. and Browne, Pat, "Flatt and Scruggs", The Guide to United States Popular Culture, Popular Press, 2001, p. 284
  3. ^ "Bluegrass, banjo legend Earl Scruggs dies at 88". The Birmingham News. Associated Press. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ Wilson, David (March 28, 2012). "Earl Scruggs, Banjoist Who Invented 'Scruggs Style,' Dies at 88". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Billy Constable: Bluegrass Musician", Blueridge National Heritage Area, retrieved 15 May 2012