Earl Scruggs in Charlotte

Earl was at Ovens Auditorium on 4/11/09 and performed as "Earl Scruggs and Friends." With him were sons Gary and Randy Scruggs and other stellar performers including fiddler Hoot Hester. Earl appeared to have a cold at this performance and seemed pretty frail (he turned 85 in January) but performed with the group on all the songs in the almost 2-hour set. There was no mistaking that famous picking style and the equally-famous banjo that was once owned by Fisher Hendley (former WBT radio star), Don Reno, and former WBT radio star Snuffy Jenkins.

In the 1950s, the WBT Briarhoppers were on the road without a banjo player. Earl Scruggs stepped in for one performance, according to Whitey Grant's interview with Rounder Record's Bill Nowlin.

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The Legendary Briarhoppers!

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT's Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutch said "Yes," which led to the birth of the Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutch, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, "Look at that briarhopper!" At that moment, Crutch found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington, NC. Since that time, The Briarhoppers' fans are/were Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding new musicians to those who left the station or who died. Today, Alana Flowers and Tom Warlick head the band with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs, and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume! Enjoy this site and learn about the Briarhoppers' storied past and the bright future that is ahead. Don't turn that dial...Hit's Briarhopper Time!