Vale Gary Scruggs, 1949 – 2021

by | 6 Dec, 2021

Gary Scruggs Obituary

Gary Scruggs, Grammy-winning country music performer, producer, singer, bassist, and songwriter, passed away on Wednesday 1st December, 2021, at age 72.

Gary was the eldest son of bluegrass music legend Earl Scruggs.

Gary grew up surrounded by music ‘royalty. Indeed he began playing guitar and bass as a child. He contributed to Flatt and Scruggs’ albums as a teenager and earned a BA in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University.

With brother Randy he released two albums (1969 and 1970) as The Scruggs Brothers, and then formed the progressive country rock band The Earl Scruggs Revue with their father, Earl. The Revue toured extensively, and during that early time in 1970 Gary convinced his father to go to a concert by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. With Earl and mother Louise’s help, this led to other iconic traditional country artists joining the Dirt Band to create the first Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, an album that is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Library of Congress.

Gary Scruggs

Gary then played guitar and sang backup for Waylon Jennings, produced his records, and finally retired from the road in the mid-1980s. At that point he focused primarily on songwriting, and over the course of his career wrote or co-wrote hundreds of songs. His incredible ‘lonesome’ song The Lowlands was used for a film score produced by John McEuen and sung by Vince Gill.

In 2005 Gary and Earl co-wrote the revised and enhanced version of his father’s classic book Earl Scruggs and the 5-string banjo.

In 2008 his song, Speed of Life, became the title cut for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s record. In 2009 Gary co-wrote Daddy Played the Banjo with Steve Martin for his Grammy Winning Best Bluegrass Album, The Crow.

He, alongside other Earl Scruggs and Friends, won the Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy award in 2001 for Foggy Mountain Breakdown. He was also nominated for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy award in 2008 for The Ultimate Collection / Live at the Ryman.

Gary worked with a wide range of musicians, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, The Byrds, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Charlie Daniels, Steve Martin, Patty Loveless, and many others.

He will be greatly missed by many.

Gary is survived by sons Jesse and Jaime, his niece Lindsey, and grandchildren Alex, Camila, Austin, and Lily.