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Ralph Stanley

bj, voc, *1927 US, McClure
Musician of Country
A.k.a. Ralph Edmond Stanley

Born February 25, 1927 in Big Spraddle Creek, Virginia. Died June 23, 2016 at his home in the same mountains of southwestern Virginia where he was born. Brother of Carter Stanley, father of Ralph Stanley II, grandfather of Nathan Stanley. Growing up in rural southwestern Virginia, Stanley learned to play the banjo, claw-hammer, style from his mother. It was her inspiration, coupled with Stanley's natural ability, which led Ralph and his older guitar-playing brother Carter, to form the their band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, in 1946. Drawing heavily on the musical traditions of the area - the holiness singing of the Primitive Baptist Church and the sweet down home family harmonies of the Carter Family- the Stanleys began honing their own special style of music by singing at local events in the early 1940s. Ralph and Carter performed as The Stanley Brothers with their band, the Clinch Mountain Boys from 1946 to 1966. After Carter's death in 1966, Ralph Stanley continued to perform, eventually reviving the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, and Charlie Sizemore were among those with whom he played in the revived band. Stanley has maintained an extensive touring schedule, with dates scheduled through 2007. Known in the world of bluegrass music by the popular title, "Dr. Ralph Stanley" (after being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee in 1976), Stanley was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992 and in 2000, and became the first person of the new millennium to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Stanley's work was also featured in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he sings the dirge "O Death." With this song, Stanley won the 2002 Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Country Vocal Performance. He's featured in the Josh Turner hit "Me and God," released in 2006. Ralph created a unique style of banjo playing, sometimes called "Stanley Style". This style evolved from Scruggs style, which is a three finger technique. "Stanley style" is distinguished by incredibly fast "forward rolls," led by the index finger, sometimes in the higher registers of his instrument utilizing the capo.

  • Banjo
  • Vocals
  • Backing Vocals
  • Country
  • World
  • Folk
Popular Tracks   
O Death on O Brother, Where Art Thou? by Various Artists
Gloryland on Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys 1971-1973 by Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
I'll Fly Away on Shine On by Ralph Stanley
Clinch Mountain Backstep on Best Of The Best by Ralph Stanley
Rank Stranger on Classic Bluegrass by Ralph Stanley
Amazing Grace on Clinch Mountain Gospel by Ralph Stanley
Fire in the Blood / Snake Song (feat. Emmylou Harris, feat. Ralph Stanley) on Lawless by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Over In The Gloryland on Clinch Mountain Gospel by Ralph Stanley
This Little Light Of Mine on Shine On by Ralph Stanley
Oh, Death on Clinch Mountain Gospel by Ralph Stanley

Track list and 30sec audio provided by

Band Members

Title Artist Year Type
Live At The Bottom Line (June 12th, 2002)Ralph Stanley2017Album
Man Of Constant SorrowRalph Stanley & Friends Of Ralph Stanley2015Album
Gospel FavoritesRalph Stanley & Nathan Stanley2015Album
My Life & Legacy: Very Best ofRalph Stanley2014Compil.
Side By SideRalph Stanley & Ralph Stanley II2013Album
Old Songs & Ballads Volume TwoRalph Stanley2012Compil.
Single GirlRalph Stanley2012Album
Old Songs & BalladsRalph Stanley2012Compil.
A Mother's PrayerRalph Stanley2011Album
Where Will You GoRalph Stanley & Nathan Stanley2008Album
Old-Time Pickin': A Clawhammer Banjo CollectionRalph Stanley2008Compil.
Mountain Preacher's ChildRalph Stanley2007Compil.
A Distant Land To Roam (Songs Of The Carter Family)Ralph Stanley2006Album
Shine OnRalph Stanley2005Album
Mountain GospelRalph Stanley2004Compil.
Great High MountainRalph Stanley2004Compil.
O Bluegrass CelebrationRalph Stanley2003Compil.
Ralph Stanley And FriendsRalph Stanley And Friends Of Ralph Stanley With Bluegrass Stars Ricky Skaggs And Keith Whitley2003Compil.
Limited Edition Bonus DiscRalph Stanley2002Single
Ralph StanleyRalph Stanley2002Album
The Very Best Of...Ralph Stanley2002Compil.
Clinch Mountain SweetheartsRalph Stanley & Friends Of Ralph Stanley2001Album
While The Ages Roll OnRalph Stanley2000Album
Clinch Mountain CountryRalph Stanley & Friends Of Ralph Stanley1998Album
My All And AllRalph Stanley1997Album
Short Life Of Trouble: Songs Of Grayson And WhitterRalph Stanley1996Album
A Gospel GatheringRalph Stanley And Joe Isaacs1995Album
Classic StanleyRalph Stanley1995Compil.
Saturday Night & Sunday MorningRalph Stanley1992Album
Like Father, Like SonRalph Stanley1989Album
I'll Answer The CallRalph Stanley1988Album
First Time TogetherJimmy Martin And Ralph Stanley1980Album
Old Home PlaceRalph Stanley1976Album
Let Me Rest On A Peaceful Mountain (Hills Of Home)Ralph Stanley1975Album
A Man And His MusicRalph Stanley1974Album
Old Country ChurchRalph Stanley1972Album
Something Old, Something New, Some Of Katy's Mountain DewRalph Stanley1971Album
Let's Go To The Fair / Hills Of Home "A Tribute To Carter"Ralph Stanley1969Single
Hard TimesThe Stanley Brothers And The Clinch Mountain Boys Featuring Ralph Stanley1963Album
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