Ralph Stanley


Ralph Stanley


Musical families
Banjo music (Bluegrass)
Musical groups.
Bands (Music)
Bluegrass music.
Bluegrass musicians
Musical performance
Sound recordings.


Ralph Stanley talks about his mother's experience as a banjo player, playing at local square dances, and talks about how his mother influenced his music. He talks about how attending the Primitive Baptist Church influenced his musical style and sound. Stanley talks about graduating high school and being immediately drafted by the Army. He talks about serving in Germany and tells a story about playing the banjo for a colonel and a captain and how this resulted in him receiving a promotion to be a mail clerk. Stanley talks about returning home from the Army and playing with a band his brother Carter was in. He talks about playing a few shows before deciding he wanted to create his own band.

Stanley talks about putting together the first iteration of his band, The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys. He talks about their early radio shows, their popularity, and their touring and shows. Stanley talks about the other Bluegrass musicians and groups that were popular when his band first began. He talks about the uniqueness of the mountain sound, and talks about how he developed the Stanley sound. Stanley talks about how he and his brother's singing voices naturally blended together. He talks about the unique playing styles of various Clinch Mountain Boys members. Stanley talks about why he didn't feel the need to change his style during the 1950s, and talks more about the uniqueness of the Stanley style. Stanley talks about the popularity of Bluegrass in the 1950s, and his experience traveling to shows and festivals.

Stanley talks about his brother's illness and eventual death. He talks about the support he received from the fans afterwards. Stanley talks about how he continued The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys after his brother Carter's death. He did not have to hire many new members. he talks about recording with the band. He talks about how he believes Carter prepared him to take on the role of frontman. Stanley describes some of the members of The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys over the years. He talks about their talent and abilities, their styles, and how he taught them the Stanley style. Stanley says he prefers working with young musicians because they are willing to learn his style. He talks about his son and grandson's attempts to continue the Stanley sound.

Stanley talks about the initial tension between the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe, but says Monroe eventually became his best friend in Bluegrass. He talks about recording with Monroe, Monroe singing at Carter Stanley's funeral, and singing at Monroe's funeral himself. Stanley talks about how he became involved with the Grand Ole Opry. He talks about winning two Grammys for "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" and how it has affected his life. Stanley describes some of his songs and albums, discussing their popularity, how they came to be, and their styles. Stanley discusses his views on the future of Bluegrass, and talks about whether the Stanley sound will continue after he is gone. He talks about the types of banjos he has played. He says he cannot read music and just plays by ear.






Herb E. Smith


Ralph Stanley

Interview Keyword

World War, 1939-1945--Germany
Radio stations.
Music--Economic aspects.
Musical ability.
Bluegrass festivals
Sound--Recording and reproducing
Music business
Music--Instruction and study.




“Ralph Stanley,” Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, accessed January 27, 2020, https://nunncenter.net/bluegrass/items/show/1.