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Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley dead at 89

By Karen Butler
Ralph Stanley has died from complications of skin cancer. He was 89. Photo courtesy of <a class="tpstyle" href="http://www.drralphstanleymusic.com/">DrRalphstanleymusic.com</a>
Ralph Stanley has died from complications of skin cancer. He was 89. Photo courtesy of DrRalphstanleymusic.com

NASHVILLE, June 24 (UPI) -- Grammy Award-winning, bluegrass music titan Ralph Stanley has died from complications of skin cancer. He was 89.

His grandson Nathan Stanley confirmed his death on social media and a statement was posted on the website of the Virginia-born, "patriarch of Appalachian music," who earned an honorary doctorate of music from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.

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"My heart is broken into pieces," Nathan Stanley said in a Facebook post Thursday. "My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago. He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with Skin Cancer. I feel so lost and so alone right now. He was my world, and he was my everything. He was always there for me no matter what. I just cannot get a grip on this. My Papaw was loved by millions of fans from all around the world, and he loved all of you. If he was singing snd on sage, he was happy. That's why I did so much to make it possible for him to travel in the last two years. Because he wanted to. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to face in my life. The only thing that gives me peace, is knowing he is in paradise and I'll see my best friend again. I love you papaw with all of my heart. As long as I live and breathe, your legacy will never die. You will forever be in my heart."

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Ralph Stanley and his older brother Carter started out in the late 1940s as the duo the Stanley Brothers and Ralph went on to continue playing with the Clinch Mountain Boys after his sibling died of liver disease in 1966.

He performed at the inaugurations of U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, was given a Living Legends medal by the Library of Congress and a National Medal of Arts presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and President George W. Bush.

He also was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1992, and, in 2000, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and sang "O, Death" for George Clooney's movie O Brother, Where Art Thou.

Despite health problems, he continued to record and tour into his 80s, often performing with his son Ralph Stanley II on guitar and his grandson Nathan on mandolin, his website said.

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