Stanley Brothers, The


  • From McClure, Virginia.
  • Carter and Ralph Stanley were among the most influential of the first-generation bluegrass bands.
  • First began recording “hillbilly music” in the 1940’s.
  • Late 40’s, signed with Columbia and developed a bluegrass sound which was patterned after Bill Monroe’s. (This resulted in Bill Monroe’s leaving Columbia for Decca.)
  • 1953-1958, recorded for Mercury Records. (In the early years of bluegrass, there was kind of a record company “musical chairs” being played among Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers—involving Mercury, Columbia and Decca.)
  • 1958, were assigned to Mercury’s subsidiary label, Starday. Later recorded for Wango and King Records.
  • One of the first bluegrass bands to feature the guitar as a lead instrument, setting themselves apart from other bluegrass acts. Bill Napier, George Shuffler, Curley Lambert and Larry Sparks all played lead guitar for the Stanley Brothers.
  • They rose to prominence on the popular radio show “Farm and Fun Time” broadcast over WCYB in Bristol, Tennessee.
  • Their recording of “The Orange Blossom Special” landed them the “Instrumental Group of the Year” award at the 1955 Nashville Disc Jockey’s Convention (later to become the Country Music Association Awards Show.)
  • Their recording of “How Far to Little Rock” was their only “top 20” song. In March of 1960, it entered the Billboard country music charts and peaked at #17. It stayed on the chart for 12 weeks.
  • Carter Stanley wrote some of his songs under the pseudonym “Ruby Rakes.”
  • Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley were first attracted to bluegrass music by the music of the Stanley Brothers and performed with them before Carter’s death.
  • Carter is best remembered by a wealth of great songs which are still performed and recorded by almost every bluegrass band, and by such artists as Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou Harris.
  • 1992, were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s Hall of Honor.
  • 1996, Carter died of liver cancer at age 41.
  • After Carter’s death, Ralph continued to perform as “Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.”
  • 2000, the Stanley Brothers’ recording of “Angel Band” was included on the movie soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Mercury/Lost Highway).