BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) – Dickenson County- native and Bluegrass legend, Dr. Ralph Stanley, succumbed to skin cancer Thursday. He was 89 years old.
“This is a big loss for the traditional music community, also for this region,” Jessica Turner, Director of the Birthplace of County Music Museum said.
Turner says that he knew the Bristol, VA museum all too well.
“We were really lucky to have a relationship with Dr. Ralph Stanley. He did come to our museum grand opening and gave a performance,” Turner said.
He paved the way for Bluegrass and Country musicians across the nation.
“I think one thing a lot of people, locally, may not realize is how the world knows Ralph Stanley. He’s such an important figure in traditional Bluegrass and especially that Clinch Mountain sound,” Turner said.
The museum’s Pick Along Summer Camp Band has learned a few special songs of their own and were able to perform them in front of family and friends.
“We got to share these songs with the students and hopefully, they’ll continue to play music and share it with other people in their families and their communities,” Tyler Hughes, the Pick Along Camp banjo instructor said.
A family tradition formed in Southwest Virginia.
“We talked to the kids this [Friday] morning about how Ralph’s mother, Lucy, taught him to play the banjo. She shared those songs with him and he shared those songs with the world,” Hughes said.
Funeral services for Dr. Stanley will be held at Mullins Funeral Home in Clintwood, Virginia.