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David Royko Psy.D

Ralph Stanley has died, 1927-2016

“Ralph Stanley’s voice sounded ancient when he was young – now that he really is old, it resonates in our collective primordial unconscious.” Old? That was 1993! He had twenty three years of performing and recording to go but I guess 60-something seemed old to the 30-something me reviewing a CD of his for the Chicago Trib.

A few years later I did a full story including an interview, selected recordings, and a concert review. I also had a chance to talk with him while writing liner notes for a CD of his that came out at the height of his “O Brother” fame. I remember thinking both times that I would be glad someday to have had a chance to talk with and interview Ralph Stanley. Actually, I’ve been glad many days, but especially today. When it comes to the first generation of Bluegrass creators and innovators (it’s not an old genre, birthed in 1945), a few are left, but with one less giant. He died yesterday. RIP Ralph.

And here’s that Stanley story (scans) from 20+ years ago because, you know, there’s so little out there written about Ralph Stanley [insert sarcastic-looking emoticon here]:


More Reading (other stuff I've written about Ralph Stanley)

Traveling the High Way Home: Ralph Stanley and the World of Traditional Bluegrass Music (University of Illinois Press). Book review/feature by David Royko, Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1994

Ralph Stanley - Almost Home (Rebel). CD review by David Royko, Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1993

Stanley Brothers - The Early Starday/King Years, 1958-1961. CD review by David Royko, Chicago Tribune, December 9, 1993

Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys: 1971 - 1973 (Rebel). CD review by David Royko, Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1996

John Wright - Promises (SL); Various Artists - The Stanley Tradition--Tribute to a Bluegrass Legacy (Doobie Shea). CDs reviewed by David Royko, Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1997