a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Music: Earl Scruggs

Vocals: Instrumental

Original Artist: Flatt and Scruggs

Original Album: Single (1949)

Debut: 1994-11-16

Historian: Geoff Ecker

Among the best known of all bluegrass tunes, Earl Scruggs wrote and he and Lester Flatt recorded "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" about two years after leaving Bill Monroe’s band and founding the Foggy Mountain Boys. The distinctive sound created from Flatt’s rhythm guitar style and unique vocals combined with Scrugg’s banjo style garnered them such popularity that even 50 years later they were given homage in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? by the “Soggy Mountain Boys.” The song has been used in television and film for many car chase sequences (usually rural), most notably in film Bonnie and Clyde and has won two Grammy awards.  

On the first night of his five-night run of guest appearances with Phish on 11/16/94, the “Reverend” Jeff Mosier demonstrated his banjo-playing chops as they performed this difficult piece as the penultimate song of the acoustic bluegrass mini-set, before segueing seamlessly into "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."  Kevin Shapiro thought so much of the performance that he included it in his “From the Archives” broadcast at Festival 8.

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