The Origin of Three Finger Style Banjo
Here’s the way I heard the story.
Years ago two boys were cooped up in their Cleveland County farmhouse homeplace. It was a rainy day and they had a reprieve from their chores. One was named Horace. He played a guitar. His brother was Earl, and he picked a banjo.
As boys can do, they got in an argument over some long forgotten point of contention, and Earl went back to the bedroom.
He had been messing with a song called ‘Ruben.’ He began to play.
Suddenly he called out to Horace. “I got it, I got it.”
Horace forgot why he was mad. It sounded important. “Whatcha got, whatcha got?”
“Listen.” Earl proceeeded with a cascade of notes. They lit up the room on a dark day in a way the boys had never heard. “I figured out how to use three fingers.”
“Let me get my guitar.” Horace took off on a run. He came back and laid down that metronome rhythm. “You got it, You got it.”
Many years later Horace still recalled the day in great detail. Looking back, even though the boys could not have any way to know how significant the event was, I believe deep in their hearts they knew that was the day ‘Scruggs Style’ banjo was born.