The country music world is in mourning after it was revealed that U.S. bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley died on Thursday. He was 89 years-old.
According to Daily Mail, Stanley helped popularize Appalachian music along with his brother Carter, and he gained more fame later in his career for the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? The singer’s grandson Ralph Stanley said on his Facebook page that he died in his sleep after a long battle with skin cancer.
“I feel so lost and so alone right now. He was my world, and he was my everything,’ he wrote.
Stanley’s career spanned seven decades, during which he wrote or co-wrote more than 200 songs, including Hard Times and The Darkest Hour Is Just Before the Dawn.
“I wrote 20 or so banjo tunes, but Carter was a better writer than me,” he said in a 2008 interview with Virginia Living magazine.
Stanley and his brother performed as the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys from 1946 to 1966, the year Carter passed away. Stanley then continued to perform into his 80s with the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Born February 25, 1927 at Big Spraddle Creek in Virginia’s Dickenson County, Stanley took his early music influences from his banjo-playing mother and from the Primitive Baptist Univeralist Church. Stanley planned to become a veterinarian until he served in the army in the 1940s, at which time he ditched these plans to become a singer.
Stanley won a Grammy in 2000 for his a cappella performance of the dirge-like O Death in the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? He was honored with the Library of Congress’ Living Legend award and was also a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Rest in peace, Ralph Stanley!