peermusic acquires song catalog of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs and majority of the song catalog of his son, Gary Scruggs

Photo courtesy of peermusic
(Left to right): Kara Blankinship, Director, Clearance & Catalog Management, peermusic; Patrick Smith, Manager, Legal and Business Affairs; Jesse Scruggs; Jaime Scruggs (Earl’s grandsons), Kathy Spanberger, President & Chief Operating Officer, peermusic; and Michael Knox, President, peermusic Nashville.

Independent music publishing company peermusic has acquired the song catalog of country and bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs and majority of the song catalog of his son, Gary Scruggs

The company has served as publisher of Earl Scruggs’ songs going back to when they were written, a relationship that spans more than half a century, to when peermusic was called the Peer-Southern Organization.

Under the deal, peermusic will acquire the US rights to the songs that it was previously administering on behalf of Earl Scruggs and his estate, as well as the rights to a majority of songs by Gary Scruggs, Earl’s son.

Earl Scruggs, who died in 2012, is credited with creating the “Scruggs style,” a three-fingered style of playing the banjo that has become the most common way to play the instrument.

Beginning in 1948, Scruggs was one of the leading members of Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. Today, the band may be best remembered for Foggy Mountain Breakdown, a song that gained mainstream popularity when it appeared in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. The duo also recorded The Ballad of Jed Clampett, better known as the theme song to the hit 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.

Peermusic describes Flatt and Scruggs as being “arguably the most well-known bluegrass band in the nation” in their heyday, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Scruggs is an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame. He took home four Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for his more than 60-year-career.

His wife, Louise Scruggs, is known for having been the first woman manager in the music industry, when, starting in 1955, she managed Flatt and Scruggs.

Louise and Earl’s sons, Gary and Randy, were both musicians. Gary was a Grammy-winning guitarist and bassist who played alongside his father, and performed as a duo with his younger brother, as well as in a trio with their father, known as the Scruggs Revue. Gary and Randy died in 2018 and 2021, respectively.

The elder Scruggs was friends with peermusic founder Ralph S. Peer, who set up the company that would become peermusic as Southern Music Publishing Co. in 1928, and became commercially successful in the 1930s by popularizing Southern American music around the world.

“The history here is incredible. There are few artists that have defined an entire genre the way that Earl Scruggs and Gary Scruggs have with bluegrass or that so popularized a single instrument across genres as Earl did with the banjo — we’re delighted to continue our work with the Scruggs family and to represent their interest in some of country music’s most beloved songs,” Michael Knox, President of Peermusic Nashville, said in a statement.

“This deal really exemplifies everything a relationship between a songwriter and a publisher should be.”

Kathy Spanberger, peermusic

“It’s a rare opportunity to acquire these incredible catalogs of songs in this competitive music rights landscape, but what makes this most meaningful to us is the decades-long relationship that peermusic has enjoyed with Earl Scruggs and Gary Scruggs,” said Kathy Spanberger, peermusic President and COO.

“This deal really exemplifies everything a relationship between a songwriter and a publisher should be. Earl and peermusic worked together successfully for decades to share his music with the world, and peermusic continues that tradition with the songs of Gary Scruggs.”

Said Jesse and Jaime Scruggs, Earl’s grandsons and the third generation of the family to be working with peermusic, in a joint statement: “Our grandfather trusted peermusic as his music publisher from the beginning of his career and the team at peermusic has been like a family to us throughout these many years.

“Keeping these song catalogs with peermusic is an easy decision for us because we know how much they have done to support the Scruggs family — and they know these song catalogs inside and out.”

Peermusic owns or administers more than a million copyrights, with some of the most prominent being works by David Foster, George Clinton, Corey Hart, Richard Harris, Donovan, Tito Puente and Jimmy Rodgers.

In 2020, peermusic expanded into neighboring rights with the acquisition of Canada-based Premier Muzik, France-based All Right Music and Netherlands-based Global Master Rights to form a new company, which still operates under the original brands.

Earlier this year, the company extended its neighboring-rights collection activities to China, under a partnership with the China Audio-Video Copyright Association (CAVCA).Music Business Worldwide

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