The agony of 2016 continues. Dr. Ralph Stanley has died.
Stanley, a 1992 Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee, died today (6/23) around 8 PM after what grandson Nathan said was "a long, horrible battle with skin cancer."
Ralph Stanley and brother Carter started on Virginia radio stations shortly after Ralph's discharge from the Army. They recorded for Columbia (prompting Bill Monroe to leave the label, infuriated that they'd sign another bluegrass act), Mercury, and King. After Carter died on December 1, 1966 Ralph continued on as a solo act.
Over the years Stanley was awarded two honorary doctorates of music (including from Yale) and won the 2002 "Best Male Country Vocal Performance" Grammy award for his stirring rendition of "O Death" on the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou. He also won a bluegrass Grammy that year for Lost in the Lonesome Pines, a collaborative effort with Jim Lauderdale.
What can you say about the legacy and the music that Dr. Ralph has given us, except "thank you, Dr. Ralph."
Thank you. A million times over, thank you, Dr. Ralph.
Ralph Stanley was 89.