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Earl Scruggs, bluegrass pioneer, dies at 88

March 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, who helped create modern country music, has died. He was 88.

Scruggs is known for pioneering the modern banjo sound. He learned to play at the age of 4 and started performing in the 1940s. His string-bending and lead runs became known worldwide as "the Scruggs picking style" and the versatility it allowed has helped popularize the banjo beyond the traditional bluegrass and country forms.

In the 60s, Scruggs and his bluegrass partner Lester Flatt recorded the theme song to "The Beverly Hillbillies," the popular TV series that debuted in 1962. Jerry Scoggins did the singing. For many viewers, the endlessly hummable theme song was their first introduction to country music.

Scruggs died Wednesday of natural causes at a hospital in Nashville.

Flowers were expected to be placed on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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