The Foggy Mountain Sound Of Flatt & Scruggs (2cd set)
Artist: Flatt & Scruggs
Cat No: NOT2CD514
The Blue Grass Boys took a name from the Carter Family track ‘Foggy Mountain Top’, and went out as Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. During the fall of 1948, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys began a three-year recording contract with Mercury Records. Also in 1948, Earl Scruggs married Louise Certain, who helped manage the band and kept them working through the years. With Benny Sims on fiddle, they recorded more than two dozen tunes between the years of 1949 and 1950. These included the Scruggs-penned ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ which reached Number 9 in the country charts, traditional ‘Old Salty Dog Blues’ and Charlie Monroe’s ‘Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms’. Also in 1950 they made their first Columbia recording which included Flatt’s ‘The Old Home Town’. Flatt and Scruggs moved to WNOX in Knoxville where they recorded ‘Dear Old Dixie’, ‘Flint Hill Special’, ‘Thinking About You’ and ‘Pray For The Boys’, the latter especially timely because of the Korean War. In 1952 ‘’Tis Sweet To Be Remembered’ also rose to Number 9 in the country charts.
The Foggy Mountain Boys joined the Opry in 1955 and, in October 1957, released their first LP, ‘Foggy Mountain Jamboree’. This included tracks such as ‘Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy’, ‘Shuckin’ The Corn’, ‘Your Love Is Like A Flower’ and ‘Blue Ridge Cabin Home’. Flatt’s ‘Cabin In The Hills’ reached Number 9 in 1959 and shortly afterwards in 1960 they had two minor country-chart hits with ‘Crying My Heart Out Over You’ and ‘Polka On A Banjo’, followed by ‘Go Home’ in 1961 and ‘Just Ain’t’ and ‘The Legend Of The Johnson Boys’ in 1962. Then ‘The Ballad Of Jed Clampett’ took them to Number 1 when The Beverly Hillbillies TV sitcom became the show’s theme song. It was the first and only bluegrass song to top the country chart, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. After Scruggs’ July 1959 appearance at the first Newport Folk Festival, he was described by the New York Times as the ‘Paganini of the five-string banjo’. This was probably the impetus which sent Flatt and Scruggs to stardom during the folk boom of the early Sixties. Bluegrass banjo instrumentals were becoming more and more prominent in music, and when Pete Seeger included a section in his folk banjo book about Scruggs’ playing method the group became accepted in educated urban folk circles. Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ was used as the background music to the 1967 movie Bonnie And Clyde, winning a Grammy and earning a ‘Million-Air’ award for a million broadcasts, but Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were soon to split. The last time they played on stage together was in February 1969. Lester Flatt died in May 1979, seven years before Flatt and Scruggs entered the Country Music Hall of Fame. Scruggs, who was on hand to accept the honour, died of natural causes in 2012, aged 88, a banjo pioneer and bluegrass legend who transformed the instrument forever.