According to The Tennessean, Bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley passed away at the age of 89 Thursday Night (June 23rd) after a battle with skin cancer.
As a member of The Grand Ole’ Opry and The Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Ralph Stanley became known to fans as “Doctor Ralph” after receiving an honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in 1976.
Ralph grew up in the small town of Big Spraddle Creek, Virginia, and gained a love for singing and performing with his first public performance inside his church. In his teen years he began playing the banjo and at the age of 19 (just out of the Army in 1946) Ralph teamed up with his older brother Carter to form the Stanley Brothers.
The Stanley Brothers recorded their first song in 1947, and ended up signing with Columbia Records’ Art Satherly in 1948. Some of their biggest hits included: “I’m Lonesome Without You” and “Memories of Mother.” The brothers also formed their band The Clinch Mountain Boys during their time performing together until Carter passed away in 1966.
After the passing of his brother, Ralph decided to take on a solo career where he still performed with The Clinch Mountain Boys. Ralph also helped start the careers of Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs, who he asked to join his band after hearing them perform before a gig, while they were both in their teenage years.
In recent memory, Ralph’s career took off when he provided music for the soundtrack to the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou.” His track on the record “O Death” earned him his first Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
Stanley is survived by his wife Jimmi Stanley, 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Funeral arrangements are unknown for the time being.
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