Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs are known as pioneers of bluegrass music and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, is considered one of the most iconic groups in the genre's history. Formed in 1948, the band and its leaders became household names in the 1960s, thanks in large part to their song "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song for the television show The Beverly Hillbillies.
The music created by Flatt, Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys has shaped the bluegrass genre for today's artists. Over the course of their career together -- they parted ways in 1969 but both continued making music well into the '90s -- Flatt and Scruggs released nearly 30 recordings. In 1985, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Read on for five can't-miss songs from Flatt and Scruggs.
"Crying My Heart Out Over You"Single (1960)
Written by Flatt, Scruggs, Carl Butler and Earl Sherry, "Crying My Heart Out Over You" reached No. 21 on the country charts. The song is about the foolishness of letting the one you love go and the heartache that comes in thinking about them with someone new.
"I was blind, I could not see / That you meant the world to me," sings Flatt in the first verse. "But like a fool, I stood and watched you go / Now I'm crying my heart out over you."
In 1982, Ricky Skaggs covered "Crying My Heart Out Over You," and it became his first No. 1 song.
Martha White Flour jingleCreated in 1953
Flatt and Scruggs may have created it for a flour company, but the advertising jingle for the Martha White brand is still considered a bluegrass standard today. Showcasing the rolling banjo sound originated and perfected by Scruggs, the jingle for Martha White Flour also sparked a longtime relationship between the food brand and Flatt and Scruggs that began with the Martha White sponsoring their daily early morning radio shows in Nashville.
"Cabin on the Hill"Single (1959)
"Cabin on the Hill" shows a slower, more ballad-like side of Flatt and Scruggs. The song highlights another vital element of bluegrass music pioneered by the pair: vocal harmonies. Here, complex instrumentals are traded for soulful lyrics sung in three- and four-part harmonies.
"If I only had my way / It would give my heart a thrill / Just to simply wonder back / To the cabin on the hill," Flatt sings as the Foggy Mountain Boys echo perfectly behind him. "Oh, I want to wonder back / To the cabin on the hill / 'Neath the shadow of the tree / I would like to linger still."
"The Ballad of Jed Clampett"From 'Hard Travelin' (The Ballad of Jed Clampett)' (1963)
The song that really put Flatt, Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys on the map, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" is the theme song for the popular television show The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962 until 1971. As the story goes, Jed Clampett is a "poor mountaineer" who strikes it rich by finding oil and subsequently moves his family of "hillbillies" to California -- the plot of the TV show. "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" tells his story in hilarious fashion, with Flatt's deep baritone giving monotone life to lyrics including, "Well, the first thing you know, ol' Jed's a millionaire, / Kinfolk said, 'Jed, move away from there' / Said, 'Californy is the place you ought to be' / So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly / Hills, that is / Swimmin' pools, movie stars."
Even more than a great theme song though, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" introduced a mainstream audience to the banjo-driven, fiddle-punctuated bluegrass sound that has endured to this day.
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"Single (1949)
One of the things that bluegrass music is best known for its instrumentals, or "breakdowns," thanks in large part to Flatt, Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Written by Scruggs and featuring the banjo virtuoso playing a five-string banjo, the song highlights the prolific role that banjo has come to play in bluegrass music. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" has endured as an iconic bluegrass instrumental track: It's considered a standard in the genre and was, in 2004, chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Scruggs also earned a Grammy in 2002 for a performance of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" featuring Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Paul Shaffer, among others.