Musician and Producer Randy Scruggs Dies at 64

Producer, guitarist, songwriter and studio owner Randy Scruggs died Tuesday (April 17) after a short illness at the age of 64.

He was the son of banjo master Earl Scruggs and the inspiration for one of the elder Scruggs’ most famous tunes, “Randy Lynn Rag.”

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Scruggs was nine years old when he made his first appearance on the televised Flatt & Scruggs Show and was a promising guitarist still in his early teens when he played on his first recording. In 1969, he and his brother Gary teamed with their father — who had recently split with long-time partner Lester Flatt — to form the Earl Scruggs Revue, a country-rock band. Then, in the early 1970s, he and Gary, working as the Scruggs Brothers, recorded two albums for Vanguard Records.

Scruggs came into his own in the 1980s after Guitar Player magazine voted him one of the top guitarists in the nation. In 1980, he opened a recording studio and began his career in producing.

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Among the dozens of artists Scruggs produced were Sawyer Brown, Earl Thomas Conley, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Steve Wariner, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Moe Bandy and Loretta Lynn.

His hits as a songwriter include “Your Love’s On the Line,” “Don’t Make It Easy For Me,” “Angel in Disguise,” “Chance of Lovin’ You,” “Love Don’t Care Whose Heart It Breaks,” (for Earl Thomas Conley), “Love Has No Right,” (for Billy Joe Royal), “Out Goin’ Cattin’,” “Shakin’,” (for Sawyer Brown) and “We Danced Anyway” (for Deana Carter).

He won four best country instrumental Grammys — for “Amazing Grace” (1990), “A Soldier’s Joy” (1999), “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (2002) and “Earl’s Breakdown” (2005).

In 1989, Scruggs won a CMA award for producing the album of the year, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2, and followed it in 1995 with a CMA single of the year prize for his production of Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing at All.”

A memorial service for Scruggs is being planned.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.