Earl Scruggs, the legendary bluegrass musician perhaps best known for his banjo playing on The Ballad of Jed Clampett , which served as the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies, died Wednesday of natural causes in Nashville, Tenn., according to his son, Gary Scruggs. He was 88.
While most Americans are familiar with Scruggs through the theme song, bluegrass aficionados know him for his revolutionary three-finger picking style.
The style is so tightly tied to Scruggs that it is known as Scruggs style.
Scruggs was born in Shelby, N.C.. His father, George Scruggs, died when he was four.
His father's death is what brought Scruggs closer to music, according to his biography listed on his website, earlscruggs.com.
Since his father was not around, and he was deprived of fatherly companionship, his emotional outlet was in the music he loved, the biography says.
Scruggs composed and played banjo on The Ballad of Jed Clampett, the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies. The CBS show ran from 1962 to 1971.
Tributes to Scruggs came pouring in on Twitter.
His death hit country singer Charlie Daniels hard.
I just got the word that my friend Earl Scruggs has passed away. He meant a lot to me. Nobody will ever play a 5 string banjo like Earl, the Devil Came Down To Georgia musician tweeted.
Actor Steve Martin, who has over 2.4 million Twitter followers, called Scruggs the most important banjo player who has ever lived.
Martin also tweeted a link to his January article on Scruggs that appeared in the New Yorker.
The Hangover actor Ed Helms tweeted that Scruggs was an American legend and a personal hero.
Twitter user @NoamPikelny said Scruggs was the bedrock.
His contributions to banjo & bluegrass are of such mythical proportions that he always seemed immortal to me, he said.
Earl Scruggs, Sympathy & sadness, Blessed for being able to share in your experience, gift and love of music. God Bless, tweeted @TXbell7.