Caruthers studied at Fisk University in the 1920s, and began playing in Bennie Moten's ensemble in 1928. He worked in St. Louis, Missouri early in the next decade with Dewey Jackson and Fate Marable, then joined the band of Jimmie Lunceford in 1932. He recorded with Lunceford often and remained a member of his orchestra until Lunceford's death in 1947.
Earl Caruthers died in Kansas City. He had three children Gloria Caruthers, Candace Caruthers Morrow and Earl Caruthers Jr.