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Lester Flatt
Publicity Photo of Lester Flatt
Publicity Photo of Lester Flatt
Background information
Birth nameLester Raymond Flatt
Born(1914-06-19)June 19, 1914
Overton County, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedMay 11, 1979(1979-05-11) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Bluegrass, country
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals, mandolin
Years active1940–1979

Lester Raymond Flatt (June 19, 1914 – May 11, 1979) [1] was an American bluegrass guitarist and mandolinist, best known for his collaboration with banjo picker Earl Scruggs in the duo Flatt and Scruggs.

Flatt's career spanned multiple decades, breaking out as a member of Bill Monroe's band during the 1940s and including multiple solo and collaboration works exclusive of Scruggs. He first reached a mainstream audience through his performance on " The Ballad of Jed Clampett", the theme for the network television series The Beverly Hillbillies, in the early 1960s.


Flatt was born in Duncan's Chapel, Overton County, Tennessee, United States, [2] to Nannie Mae Haney and Isaac Columbus Flatt. In 1943, he played mandolin and sang tenor in The Kentucky Pardners, the band of Bill Monroe's older brother Charlie. [3] He first came to prominence as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1945 and played a thumb-and-index guitar style that was in part derived from the playing of Charlie Monroe and Clyde Moody. In 1948, he started a band with fellow Monroe alumnus Earl Scruggs, and for the next 20 years, Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys were one of the most successful bands in bluegrass. [4] When they parted ways in 1969, Flatt formed a new group, the Nashville Grass, hiring many of the Foggy Mountain Boys. He continued to record and perform with that group until his death in 1979. [5] His role as rhythm guitarist and vocalist in each of these seminal ensembles helped define the sound of traditional bluegrass music. His solid guitar playing and rich lead voice are unmistakable in hundreds of bluegrass standards. He is also remembered for his library of compositions.

Death and legacy

Flatt died of heart failure in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 64. [6]

He was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985 along with Scruggs. [7] Flatt was also posthumously inducted as an inaugural member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991.

Lester's hometown of Sparta, Tennessee, held a bluegrass festival in his honor for a number of years, before being discontinued a few years prior to the death of the traditional host, resident Everette Paul England; Lester Flatt Memorial Bluegrass Day remains part of the annual Liberty Square Celebration held in Sparta. [8]

Flatt and Scruggs were ranked No. 24 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003.


Lester Flatt memorial in Sparta, Tennessee
Year Album US Country Label
1970 Flatt Out Columbia
One and Only Nugget
1971 Flatt on Victor RCA Victor
Lester 'N' Mac (w/ Mac Wiseman) 42
1972 Kentucky Ridgerunner
On the Southbound (w/ Mac Wiseman)
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
1973 Country Boy 45
Over the Hills to the Poorhouse (w/ Mac Wiseman)
1974 Before You Go
Live Bluegrass Festival (w/ Bill Monroe)
The Best
1975 Flatt Gospel (w/ Nashville Grass) Canaan Records
1976 Lester Raymond Flatt Flying Fish
Heaven's Bluegrass Band (w/ Nashville Grass) CMH Records
A Living Legend (w/ Nashville Grass)
1978 Pickin' Time (w/ Nashville Grass)
1979 Fantastic Pickin' (w/ Nashville Grass)


  1. ^ "Lester Flatt | American musician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
  2. ^ Browne, Ray B.; Browne, Pat, eds. (2001). "Flatt and Scruggs". The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. p. 284. ISBN  978-0879728212.
  3. ^ "Biography: Lester Flatt". Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Neil V. (1998). "Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys". The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 173–4. ISBN  978-0195395631.
  5. ^ Samuelson, Dave (1998). "Lester Flatt & the Nashville Grass". In Kingsbury, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 173. ISBN  978-0195395631.
  6. ^ Rockwell, John (May 12, 1979). "Lester Flatt, Singer and Guitarist in Duo With Earl Scruggs, Dies". The New York Times. p. 26.
  7. ^ "Flatt and Scruggs". Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "Lester Flatt Memorial Bluegrass Day". East Public Relations. September 29, 2007. Archived from the original on December 5, 2007.

External links