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Earl's siblings, older brothers Junie and Horace, and older sisters Eula Mae and Ruby, all played banjo and guitar.Scruggs recalls a visit to his uncle's home at age six to hear a blind banjo player named Mack Woolbright, who played a finger picking style and had recorded for Columbia Records.He became a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.In 1985, Flatt and Scruggs were inducted together into the Country Music Hall of Fame and named, as a duo, number 24 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.He popularized the instrument in several genres of music and elevated the banjo from its role as a background rhythm instrument, or a comedian's prop, into featured solo status.Scruggs' career began at age 21 when he was hired to play in a group called "Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys".

When done skillfully and in rapid sequence, the style allows any digit (though usually the thumb) to play a melody, while the other two digits play arpeggios of the melody line.Band member Lester Flatt resigned as well, and he and Scruggs later paired up in a new group called "Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys".Scruggs' banjo instrumental called "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", released in 1949, became an enduring hit, and had a rebirth of popularity to a younger generation when it was featured in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.The song won two Grammy Awards and, in 2005, was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of works of unusual merit.Flatt and Scruggs brought bluegrass music into mainstream popularity in the early 1960s with their country hit, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett"—the theme music for the successful network television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies—which was the first bluegrass recording to reach number one on the Billboard charts.

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