Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Bluegrass became a popular music genre thanks, in part, to the widespread popularity of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.
Lester, with his vocals and his guitar – and Earl on the banjo – created bluegrass music as it had never been heard before, and together, they helped shape the sound of today’s country music.
Earl’s unique banjo style is credited with influencing generations of banjo pickers to pick up the instrument and “learn to play like Earl.” His three-finger picking style elevated the five-string banjo from a part of the rhythm section to a solo instrument, and helped popularize the banjo in almost every genre of music.
This journey to legendary bluegrass status got its start with the help of Martha White®.
In 1953, the company hired the then unknown band to barnstorm the South – in the Martha White Bluegrass Express – promoting its flour and cornmeal.
They became known as the “World's Greatest Flour Peddlers” through local concerts, performances on Nashville's early morning radio show and as hosts of the Flatt and Scruggs television program – all sponsored by Martha White. Lester and Earl's increasing popularity brought them to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and more national exposure, including a performance at Carnegie Hall.
Their Foggy Mountain Breakdown was used as the getaway music in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, and their Ballad of Jed Clampett became the theme song for the 1960s television sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies, where they made several cameo appearances.
In 2012, The Recording Academy selected the Columbia Records’ 1957 album by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Foggy Mountain Jamboree, for induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame.