About a decade ago, I got lucky the one and only time I ever went to to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville: Banjo legend Earl Scruggs was on that night's bill, with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band stringman John McEuen. Shelby native Scruggs was great, of course, playing with his usual dazzling and understated elegance. But the thing I remember most about that night was McEuen's reaction to getting to play with one of his idols at the cradle of country music -- he was literally jumping up and down, he was so excited. It was wonderful and amazing to see someone living out a dream, and so thrilled he didn't care how goofy he looked.
Scruggs tended to have that effect on people, but he remained remarkably gracious and unfazed through it all despite being one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. That influence will continue on past his time, too. Scruggs passed away Wednesday morning in Nashville, at age 88.