Dr. Ralph Stanley


Bluegrass,Southern Gospel,Traditional Folk


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Ralph Stanley was born in Dickenson County, Virginia, where he still resides when he's not on the road.  After 55 years in the business, he's still the best banjo picker and tenor singer in bluegrass music.  As a recording artist, Ralph Stanley has performed on more than 170 albums, tapes, and CDs.  He's also written thousands of songs himself and with his brother, the late Carter Stanley.

After initially considering a course in "veterinary," Ralph Stanley decided to throw in with his older guitar-playing brother, Carter, and form the Clinch Mountain Boys, in 1946. Drawing heavily on the musical traditions of the area, which included the unique minor-key singing style of the Primitive Baptist Universalist church and the sweet down-home family harmonies of the Carter Family, the Stanleys began playing on local radio stations.

Initially covering "a lot of Bill Monroe music",Ralph Stanley and Carter Stanley soon "found out that didn't pay off—we needed something of our own. So we started writing songs in 1947, 1948. I guess I wrote 20 or so banjo tunes, but Carter was a better writer than me."  When Columbia Records signed the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe left in protest and joined Decca.  The Stanley Brothers joined King Records in the late '50s, a record company so eclectic it included James Brown at the time.  It was at King Records that the Stanley Brothers "went to a more 'Stanley style,' the sound that people most know today."

Ralph Stanley and Carter Stanley performed as The Stanley Brothers with their band, the Clinch Mountain Boys from 1946 to 1966.  Their catalog of songs include “Angel Band”, "Rank Strangers”, “Little Maggie” and the famed “Man Of Constant Sorrow”. Tragedy struck the Stanley Brothers on December 1st 1966 with the untimely passing of 41 year old Carter Stanley.

After Carter died of complications of cirrhosis in 1966, Ralph Stanley faced a hard decision on whether to continue performing on his own. "I was worried, I didn't know if I could do it by myself. But boy, I got letters, 3,000 of 'em, and phone calls . . . I went to Syd Nathan at King and asked him if he wanted me to go on, and he said, 'Hell yes! You might be better than both of them.'"

Ralph Stanley decided to go it alone, eventually reviving the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers, and Charlie Sizemore were among those with whom he played in the revived band. He encountered Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley while arriving late to a Clinch Mountain Boys show: "They were about 16 or 17, and they were holding the crowd 'til we got there. . . They sounded just exactly like (the Stanley Brothers)." Seeing their potential, Ralph Stanley hired them "to give 'em a chance", even though that meant a seven-member band. Eventually, his son Ralph Stanley II, took over as lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the Clinch Mountain Boys.

For over six decades Ralph Stanley has become one of the most influential artists of all time. Some of Country and Bluegrass music’s biggest stars came from Ralph Stanley’s band, including Ricky Skaggs, Larry Sparks and the late Keith Whitley.  Ralph Stanley created a unique style of banjo playing, sometimes called "Stanley Style". It 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 utilizing a capo. In "Stanley Style", the rolls of the banjo are continuous, while being picked fairly close the bridge on the banjo, giving the tone of the instrument a very crisp, articulate snap to the strings as the player would strike them.

In 1976 Ralph Stanley received a honorary doctorate of music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. In 1984, Ralph Stanley was the recipient of the “National Heritage Award” given by President Ronald Reagan. In 1992 he was inducted into the” International Bluegrass Music Hall Of Honor” and, in 2000,Ralph Stanley was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

In 2002 Ralph Stanley received his first ever Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance of the haunting rendition of “Oh Death” that was featured in the movie and soundtrack of “O Brother Where Art Thou”. In 2006 he received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress and National medal of arts given by President George W. Bush.

Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys are still touring a 100 plus dates per year, and enjoying his time at home with his lovely wife “Jimmi” of nearly 50 years. Dr. Ralph Stanley is not only an American treasure but and international Icon.

Listen to Christian Musician Dr Ralph Stanley


Album Title Year Label
Old Country Church1967Rebel Records
Brand New Country Songs1967King Records
Old Time Music1967Jalyn Records
The Bluegrass Sound of Ralph Stanley1968Jalyn Records
Hits of Home1969King Records
Michigan Bluegrass1971Jessup Records
Live In Japan1971Rebel Records
Gospel Echoes of the Stanley Brothers1973Jessup Records
Live at McClure, Virginia1975Rebel Records
Snow Covered Mountain1975Rebel Records
The Stanley Sound Around the World 1975King Bluegrass
Like Father Like Son1978Copper Creek
Live At The Old Home Place1981Rebel Records
The Stanley SoundTtoday 1981Rebel Records
I Can Tell You The Time1985Rebel Records
I'll Answer the Call1987Rebel Records
Ralph Stanley and Raymond Fairchild1898Rebel Records
Classic Bluegrass1990Rebel Records
Pray for the Boys1990Rebel Records
Bound to Ride1991Rebel Records
Ralph Stanley Live at McClure1992Rebel Records
Almost Home1992Rebel Records
Saturday Night & Sunday Morning1992Freeland Records
Back to the Cross1992Freeland Records
Christmas Time with Ralph Stanley1993Freeland Records
Hymns From The Heart1993Z Records
Ralph Stanley And The Clinch Mountain Boys: 1971-19731995Rebel Records
50th Anniversary Collection1995Rebel Records
Classic Stanley1995Rebel Records
Gospel Gathering1995Freeland Records
Saturday Night1995Freeland Records
Sunday Morning1995Freeland Records
16 Years1996Copper Creek
Classic Mountain Music1996Freeland Records
Classic Gospel1996Freeland Records
Child of The King1996Rebel Records
I Want To Preach The Gospel1996Rebel Records
Down Where The River Bends1996Rebel Records
My All & All1997Rebel Records
Memory of Your Smile1997Rebel Records
Over The Sunset Hill1998King Records
Songs My Mother Taught Me & More1998Freeland Records
Clinch Mountain Country1998Freeland Records
Songs of Love and Tragedy2000Lone Star
While the Ages Roll on2000Rebel Records
Man of Constant Sorrow2001Rebel Records
Echoes of the Stanley Brothers2001Varese Records
Clinch Mountain Gospel2001Rebel Records
Cry From the Cross2001Rebel Records
Clinch Mountain Sweethearts2001Rebel Records
The Very Best of Ralph StanleyAudium Entertainment2002
Live at The Smithsonian Institution2002Gusto Records
Ralph Stanley2002Sony Music
Live at the Smithsonian 22002King Records
Poor Rambler2003King Records
O Bluegrass Celebration2003BMG Special Products
Great High Mountain2004Rebel Records
I'll Wear A White Robe2005Rebel Records
Let Me Rest On A Peaceful Mountain2005Rebel Records
Plays Requests2005Rebel Records
Shine on2005Rebel Records
Something Old, Something New2005Rebel Records
Ralph Stanley And Friends2005K-Mack
Great Bluegrass Performances2006CBUJ Distribution
Great Gospel Performances2006CBUJ Distribution
Distant Land to Roam2006Sony Music
Early Classics: The King Recordings2007Time Life Recordings
Mountain Preacher's ChildFolk Music CDs)2007Rebel Records
Essential Masters2007Varese Sarabanda
Festivalink Presentes Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys2008Festivalink
Old-Time Pickin': A Clawhammer Banjo Collection2008Rebel Records
Can't You Hear the Mountians Calling2009Rounder Records
A Mother's Prayer2011Rebel Records





United States

Record Label:

Rebel Records

Christian Label:


Years Active: