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The Importance Of Earl Scruggs, As Told By His Followers

Earl Scruggs performs in Atlanta in 2003.
Rick Diamond
Earl Scruggs performs in Atlanta in 2003.

In 2007, NPR's John Ydstie sat down with three extraordinary banjo players: Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck and Steve Martin (you might also know him from that comedy thing he does). He asked Martin, "What got you interested in the banjo?"

"Well, I think the story is so similar for everybody," Martin replied. "We heard a record once — I was 17 — and I heard Earl Scruggs play. I just went, 'Oh!' So I bought a banjo for 200 bucks. I still have it.'

Scruggs' influence on future generations of players is unmistakable. The bluegrass pioneer died this past week at the age of 88. When Ydstie spoke with Trischka, Fleck and Martin, there was a lot of talk about Scruggs and his legacy — and the three performed "Shuckin' the Corn," a tune Scruggs made famous in 1954. Here, Weekend Edition Sunday revisits their conversation.

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