Four works by Scruggs have been placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
After Scruggs' death in 2012 at age 88, the Earl Scruggs Center was founded near his birthplace in Shelby, North Carolina, with the aid of a federal grant and corporate donors.
The center is a .5 million facility which features the musical contributions of Scruggs and serves as an educational center providing classes and field trips for students.
This departure from traditional playing elevated the banjo to become more of a solo instrument—a promotion from its former role of providing background rhythm or serving as a comedian's prop—and popularized the instrument in several genres of music.
An early influence was a local banjoist, De Witt "Snuffy" Jenkins, who plucked in a finger style.
On the subject, John Hartford said, "Here's the way I feel about it.
Everybody's all worried about who invented the style and it's obvious that three finger banjo pickers have been around a long time— maybe since 1840.
Scruggs recalls a visit to his uncle's home at age six to hear a blind banjo player named Mack Woolbright, who played a finger picking style and had recorded for Columbia Records.
Scruggs then took up the instrument — he was too small to hold it at first and improvised by setting his brother Junie's banjo beside him on the floor.
His first radio performance was at age 11 on a talent scout show.
Prior to Scruggs, most banjo players used the frailing or clawhammer technique, which consists of holding the fingers bent like a claw and moving the entire hand in a downward motion so that the strings are struck with the back of the middle fingernail.
Scruggs' career began at age 21 when he was hired to play in a group called "Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys".
The name "bluegrass" eventually became the eponym for the entire genre of country music now known by that title.
The duo broke up in 1969, chiefly because, where Scruggs wanted to switch styles to fit a more modern sound, Flatt was a traditionalist who opposed the change, and believed doing so would alienate a fan base of bluegrass purists.