Foggy Mountain Breakdown

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"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
Single by Foggy Mountain Boys
ReleasedMarch 15, 1950 (March 15, 1950)
Songwriter(s)Earl Scruggs
Foggy Mountain Boys singles chronology
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
"'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered"
2005 picture of USA banjo player Earl Scruggs

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is a bluegrass instrumental − that is, a "breakdown" − written by Earl Scruggs and first recorded on December 11, 1949 by the bluegrass artists Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.[1] It is a standard in the bluegrass repertoire. The 1949 recording features Scruggs playing a five-string banjo.

It is used as background music in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, especially in the car chase scenes, and has been used in a similar manner in many other films and television programs, particularly when depicting a pursuit scene in a rural setting.[2] In 1968, both the 1949 Mercury records version and a newly recorded Columbia version were listed at one position of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #55.

In 2002, Scruggs won a Grammy award for a 2001 performance which featured Steve Martin on second banjo, Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and Randy Scruggs on guitars, Marty Stuart on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Leon Russell on organ, Gary Scruggs on harmonica, and Paul Shaffer on piano, among others.[3]

In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.[4]

Because of its ubiquity and its status as a favorite tune at bluegrass jams and concerts, guitar and mandolin players commonly learn solo breaks to this song that closely mirror the original banjo version. The instrumental is related to Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Breakdown" which Scruggs helped write. It featured the same opening double hammer-on, but "Bluegrass Breakdown" goes to an F major chord whereas Foggy Mountain Breakdown goes to the G major chord's relative minor, an E minor chord.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967-8) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 58
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 55
RPM Top 100 Singles 90
UK Singles Charts 39

Various recordings[edit]

  • Glen Campbell recorded the song on his 1981 album Glen Campbell Live.
  • The Cuban Boys engineered an electronica-inspired version of the song for their early EP Blueprint for Modernisation (appearing again in their Art Vs. Commerce - The Singles Collection).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hank Williams Was Here". Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  2. ^ "The Full National Recording Registry". National Recording Registry. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  3. ^ "Steve Martin to Play Carnegie Hall in October". Playbill. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  4. ^ "The Full National Recording Registry". National Recording Registry. Retrieved 8 September 2009.

External links[edit]