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Ralph Stanley
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Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley (born in 25 February, 1927) is an American bluegrass musician.

Stanley was born in Big Spraddle Creek, Virginia, near Stratton, Dickenson County, Virginia, USA.

The son of Lucy and Lee Stanley, Ralph grew up in the isolated hills of rural southwestern Virginia. Ralph learned to play the banjo claw-hammer style from his mother. It was her inspiration, coupled with Ralph's natural ability, which led Ralph and his older guitar-playing brother Carter to form the Stanley Brothers Band in 1946. Drawing heavily on the musical traditions of the area - the holiness singing of the Primitive Baptist Church and the old-time clawhammer-style of banjo playing - the Stanleys began honing their own special style of music by singing at local events in the early 1940s.

He and his brother Carter performed as the Stanley Brothers with their band the Clinch Mountain Boys from 1946 to 1961, and as a duo from 1961 to 1966. After Carter's death in 1966, Ralph continued to perform, eventually reviving the Clinch Mountain Boys. Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley were among those who played in the revived band. Stanley has maintained an extensive touring schedule into 2003. He was featured on the film O brother where art thou where he sings the dirge O death.

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