Stanley, Ralph


  • Born in 1927 in Big Spraddle Creek, Virginia. His home was in McClure, Virginia.
  • 1946, began performing with his brother Carter as the The Stanley Brothers after his discharge from the Army until Carter’s death in 1966.
  • 1966-2016, Ralph kept The Stanley Brothers’ band The Clinch Mountain Boys together by employing a long succession of lead singers cut in the Carter Stanley mold—Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers, Keith Whitley, Charlie Sizemore, Sammy Adkins, and his sons Ralph Stanley II and Nathan.
  • Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley joined The Clinch Mountain Boys while they were teenagers.
  • He claims that had he not become a professional musician, he would have become a veterinarian.
  • 1976, he received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Since then, he has been known as “Dr. Ralph Stanley.”
  • 1999, won IBMA Awards for Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year for his album Clinch Mountain Country (Rebel).
  • 1999, recorded first album with Nashville hit-writer Jim Lauderdale. He recorded several more with him in subsequent years.
  • 2000, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry at age 72.
  • 2000, received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress.
  • 2000, sang on the soundtrack for the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and received numerous CMA and Grammy awards for his work on that project.
  • 2001, won Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Performance for “O Death” from the soundtrack to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Other nominees included Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Tim McGraw, Johnny Cash and Ryan Adams)
  • 2001-2, performed on the “Down from the Mountain” tour.
  • 2002, won IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year for Clinch Mountain Sweethearts (Rebel).
  • 2003, won Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for his collaboration with Jim Lauderdale, Lost in the Lonesome Pines (Dualtone). Ralph’s solo album Ralph Stanley (Columbia), produced by T. Bone Burnett, was also nominated but did not win.
  • 2006, was awarded the National Medal for the Arts by President George W. Bush at the White House.
  • 2007, performed for the Queen of England when she visited Richmond, Virginia.
  • 2008, was presented with the “Governor’s Award for the Arts” by the State of Virginia.
  • 2010, his autobiography was published. Stanley and co-writer Eddie Dean received an IBMA Award for Print Media Personality of the Year.
  • 2013, announced his retirement (but continued to make appearances for three more years).
  • 2014, received his second honorary doctorate, a Doctor of Music degree from Yale University in New Haven, CT.
  • 2014, was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (along with Al Pacino, John Irving, Annie Proulx and other notable public figures).
  • 2015, released Man of Constant Sorrow album (Cracker Barrel) with guests Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Old Crow Medicine Show and others.
  • 2016, officially turned the band name over to his son Ralph Stanley II.
  • June 23, 2016, died at the age of 89.