On This Day #35 – Flatt & Scruggs

Lester Flatt & Earl ScruggsOn This Day …..

On October 24, 1951, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered and Earl’s Breakdown.

During an afternoon session at the Castle Studio set up at The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Avenue North, Nashville, Flatt and Scruggs recorded ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered and the original version of Earl’s Breakdown for Columbia Records.

The two recordings were paired on a single, Columbia 4-20886, that was released on November 30, 1951.

‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered rose to Number 9 in the Billboard Country Music Charts.

The personnel involved were Lester Flatt (guitar) and Earl Scruggs (banjo) with the Foggy Mountain Boys: Everett Lilly (mandolin) and Jody Rainwater, (bass). Howdy Forrester, then with Roy Acuff, filled in on fiddle.

In the recording of Earl’s Breakdown, Scruggs introduces his technique of adjusting his banjo strings’ tuning in the middle of a song. The positive reaction to this tune led Scruggs to create a mechanism for raising and lowering his strings’ pitch without adjusting the tuning pegs.

The recording session yielded recordings of six other songs – I’m Gonna Settle Down, I’m Lonesome And Blue, Over The Hills To The Poorhouse, My Darling’s Last Goodbye, Get In Line Brother and Brother I’m Getting Ready To Go.

Over time three other singles were released –

Get In Line Brother b/w Brother I’m Getting Ready To Go (Columbia 4-20915)

Over The Hills to the Poorhouse b/w My Darling’s Last Goodbye (Columbia 4-21002)

I’m Gonna Settle Down b/w I’m Lonesome and Blue (Columbia 4-21043)

None of these releases were anywhere near as successful as the ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered / Earl’s Breakdown pairing.

The recording session took place very close to the anniversary of the date that Flatt and Scruggs signed with Columbia Records, October 26, 1950.

Here is a reminder of how the Flatt and Scruggs’ arrangement of ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered sounds …..


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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.