Randy Scruggs
Flickr/ Eric Frommer

Musician, Songwriter and Producer Randy Scruggs Dead at 64

A life spent giving back to the music that made his surname famous came to a close with the April 17 passing of Randy Scruggs. The 64-year-old songwriter, producer, musician and studio owner's death followed a brief illness.

The middle son of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, Randy first appeared on the Flat & Scruggs television show at age 9. He became a session musician at age 13, applying talents he'd learned directly from family friend Mother Maybelle Carter. As a young man in the 1970s, he lent his name and talents to projects empowered by a renewed cultural interest in bluegrass. His contributions to "new grass" included stints as a member of a duo with older brother Gary, John Hartford's Aereo-Plane Band and the Earl Scruggs Revue.

Beyond bluegrass, Earl impacted mainstream and roots-based country music as a producer and session musician. The dozens of country, bluegrass and gospel acts he produced or recorded sessions for include Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Alison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam.

He was also an accomplished songwriter, penning multiple number one singles for Earl Thomas Conley and songs for Deana Carter and Sawyer Brown.

In 1979, he founded Scruggs Sound Studio in Berry Hill, the incubator for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's second and third Will the Circle Be Unbroken albums. The studio was recently sold to Canadian singer-songwriter Gary Reid.

A memorial event should be announced soon. In the meantime, donations are being accepted in Earl Scruggs' name to MusiCares and the T.J. Martell Foundation.