The Stanley Brothers
The Stanley Brothers
|Origin||Dickenson County, Virginia, U.S.|
The Stanley Brothers were an American bluegrass duo of singer-songwriters and musicians, made up of brothers Carter Stanley (August 27, 1925 – December 1, 1966) and Ralph Stanley (February 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016). Ralph and Carter performed as The Stanley Brothers with their band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, from 1946 to 1966. Ralph kept the band name when he continued as a solo artist after Carter's death, from 1967 until his own death in 2016.
Carter and Ralph Stanley were born on a small farm in Dickenson County, Virginia. Music was a part of their lives even in their early years, and they listened to the Monroe Brothers, J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers and the Grand Ole Opry on local radio.
The brothers formed a band, the Lazy Ramblers, and performed as a duo on WJHL radio in Johnson City, Tennessee. World War II interrupted their musical career, but once both brothers returned from the United States Army, they resumed their musical pursuits. They formed their band, the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, in the month of November 1946 as the first band to copy the Monroe sound. Carter played guitar and sang lead, while Ralph played banjo and sang with a strong, high tenor voice. Additional members of this early band were Darrell "Pee Wee" Lambert on mandolin and Bobby Sumner on fiddle. Sumner soon was replaced by Leslie Keith.
On December 26, 1946, the band began performing at radio station WCYB in Bristol, Tennessee as stalwarts of the famed Farm and Fun Time radio show. They made their recording debut in September 1947 for Rich-R-Tone Records which had been founded the year before. Their records sold well, "outselling even Eddy Arnold" regionally. Up to now, Ralph had been playing his banjo with two fingers on recordings and in concerts, but in 1948, he switched to the three-finger style (popularised by Earl Scruggs). In March 1949, the Stanley Brothers began recording for Columbia Records. During this time, Bill Monroe was not particularly fond of groups like the Stanley Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs who he believed "stole" his music by copying it; they were seen as "economic threats."
Financially hard times in the early 1950s forced the brothers to take a short break in their musical career. They began working for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Eventually, Monroe and the Stanley Brothers became friends, and Carter performed for several months with Bill Monroe in the summer of 1951. In August 1951, Ralph was involved in a serious automobile accident that almost ended his career. Following his recovery, Carter and Ralph reunited to front their Clinch Mountain Boys.
As bluegrass music grew less popular in the late 1950s, the Stanley Brothers moved to Live Oak, Florida and headlined the weekly Suwannee River Jamboree radio show on WNER from 1958 to 1962. The three-hour show was also syndicated across the Southeast. In 1966, the brothers toured Europe, and upon returning home, they continued to perform together until Carter's death in December 1966.
Many years later, Ralph revived the Clinch Mountain Boys until his death in 2016. He performed with them through 2013. He recorded one last album in 2014, Side By Side, with his son, Ralph II. Among the musicians who have played in the revived Clinch Mountain Boys were Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Larry Sparks, Curly Ray Cline, Jack Cooke, Roy Lee Centers, Charlie Sizemore, Ray Goins, and Ralph Stanley II. Ralph's career received a big boost with his prominent role on the very successful soundtrack recording of the 2000 feature film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which featured the song "Man of Constant Sorrow" among others.
The Stanley Brothers were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992. In 2005, The Barter State Theatre of Virginia premiered an original stage production, Man of Constant Sorrow: The Story of the Stanley Brothers, written by Dr. Douglas Pote.
The University Press of Mississippi published the first full-length biography of the Stanley Brothers, Lonesome Melodies: The Lives and Music of the Stanley Brothers by David W. Johnson, on February 1, 2013. The paperback edition was published March 1, 2014.
Among the Stanley Brothers' best known recordings are:
- I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow (Columbia 20816, Rec: Nov. 3, 1950, Released: May, 1951)
- Rank Stranger
- Angel Band (1955)
- How Mountain Girls Can Love
- How Far to Little Rock? (novelty)
- Still Trying to Get to Little Rock (novelty)
- Ridin' That Midnite Train
- Clinch Mountain Backstep
- She's More to Be Pitied
- The Memory of Your Smile
- Love Me Darlin' Just Tonight
Clinch Mountain Boys members
- Carter Stanley (lead vocalist, steel-string guitar)
- Ralph Stanley (banjo)
- George Shuffler (steel-string guitar, bass)
- Darrell "Pee Wee" Lambert (mandolin)
- Jim Williams (mandolin)
- Curly Lambert (mandolin, steel-string guitar)
- James Price (fiddle)
- Robert "Bobby" Sumner (fiddle)
- Lester Woodie (fiddle) (died 2018)
- Ralph Mayo (fiddle, steel-string guitar)
- Chubby Anthony (fiddle)
- Art Stamper (fiddle)
- Joe Meadows (fiddle)
- Paul Moon Mullins (fiddle)
- Red Stanley (fiddle)
- Don Miller (fiddle)
- Vernon Derrick (fiddle, steel-string guitar)
- Curly Ray Cline (fiddle)
- James "Jay" Hughes (bass)
- Ernie Newton (bass)
- James "Chick" Stripling (bass)
- Mike Seeger (bass)
- Charlie Cline (steel-string guitar)
- Bill Napier (steel-string guitar mandolin)
- Albert Elliott (mandolin, bass, and baritone vocals) better known as Touser Murphy as his stage name
- Larry Sparks (steel-string guitar)
- James Alan Shelton (guitar)
- Jack Cooke (bass)
- John Shuffler (bass)
- Melvin Goins (bass, steel-string guitar)
- Johnny Bonds (bass)
- Bill Slaughter (bass)
|1947||"Mother No Longer Awaits Me at Home" / "The Girl Behind the Bar"||Rich-R-Tone Records||420|
|1948||"Little Maggie" / "The Little Glass of Wine"||423|
|1948||"The Rambler's Blues" / "Molly and Tenbrooks"||Rich-R-Tone||418|
|1949||"The Jealous Lover" / "Our Darling's Gone"||Rich-R-Tone||435|
|1949||"The White Dove" / "Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet"||Columbia Records||20577|
|1949||"Little Glass of Wine" / "Let Me Be Your Friend"||Columbia Records||20590|
|1949||"The Angels are Singing (in Heaven Tonight)" / "It's Never Too Late"||Columbia Records||20617|
|1949||"A Vision of Mother" / "Have You Someone (in Heaven Awaiting)"||Columbia Records||20647|
|1950||"The Old Home" / "The Fields Have Turned Brown"||Columbia Records||20667|
|1950||"Death is Only a Dream" / "I Can Tell You the Time"||Rich-R-Tone||466|
|1950||"I Love No One But You" / "Too Late to Cry"||Columbia Records||20697|
|1950||"We'll Be Sweethearts in Heaven" / "The Drunkard's Hell"||Columbia Records||20735|
|1950||"Hey! Hey! Hey!" / "Pretty Polly"||Columbia Records||20770|
|1951||"The Lonesome River" / "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow"||Columbia Records||20816|
|1952||"Sweetest Love" / "The Wandering Boy"||Columbia Records||20953|
|1952||"Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake" / "Are You Waiting Just for Me?"||Rich-R-Tone||1055|
|1952||"Little Glass of Wine" / "Little Birdie"||Rich-R-Tone||1056|
|1953||"This Weary Heart You Stole Away" / "I'm Lonesome Without You"||Mercury Records||70217|
|1953||"Say Won't You Be Mine" / "Our Last Goodbye"||Mercury Records||70270|
|1954||"I Long to See the Old Folks" / "A Voice from on High"||Mercury Records||70340|
|1954||"Memories of Mother" / "Could You Love Me One More Time"||Mercury Records||70400|
|1954||"Poison Lies" / "Dickson County Breakdown"||Mercury Records||70437-X45|
|1954||"Blue Moon of Kentucky" / "I Just Got Wise"||Mercury||70453-X45|
|1954||"Calling from Heaven" / "Harbor of Love"||Mercury Records||70483-X45|
|1955||"Hard Times" / "I Worship You"||Mercury Records||70546-X45|
|1955||"So Blue" / "You'd Better Get Right"||Mercury Records||70612-X45|
|1955||"Lonesome and Blue" / "Orange Blossom Special"||Mercury Records||70663-X45|
|1955||"I Hear My Savior Calling" / "Just a Little Talk with Jesus"||Mercury Records||70718-X45|
|1956||"Nobody's Love Is like Mine"/ "Big Tilda"||Mercury Records||70789-X45|
|1956||"Baby Girl" / "Say You'll Take Me Back"||Mercury Records||70886-X45|
|1957||"I'm Lost, I'll Never Find the Way" / "The Flood"||Mercury Records||71064-X45|
|1957||"Fling Ding" / "Loving You Too Well"||Mercury Records||71207-X45|
|1958||"She's More to Be Pitied" / "Train 45"||King Records (USA)||5155|
|1958||"Midnight Ramble" / "Love Me Darling Just Tonight"||King Records||5165|
|1959||"Keep a Memory" / "Mastertone March"||King Records||5180|
|1959||"How Can We Thank Him" / "That Home Far Away"||King Records||5197|
|1959||"The Memory of Your Smile" / "Suwanee River Hoedown"||King Records||5210|
|1959||"The White Dove" / "Mother's Footsteps Guide Me On"||King Records||5233|
|1958||Country Pickin' and Singin'||Mercury Records||MG-20349|
|1959||Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys||King Records||615|
|1959||Hymns and Sacred Songs||King Records||645|
|1959||Mountain Song Favorites Featuring 5 String Banjo||Starday Records||SLP 106||reissued 1964 as Nashville NLP-2014|
|1960||Sacred Songs from the Hills||Starday Records||SLP-122|
|1960||The Stanley Brothers Sing Everybody's Country Favorites||King Records||690|
|1960||For the Good People: Sacred Songs||King Records||698|
|1961||The Stanley's In Person||King Records||719||Stereo|
|1961||Stanley Brothers Live at Antioch College - 1960||Vintage Collector's Club||ZK 002||limited edition of 500|
|1961||Sing the Songs They Like Best||King Records||772|
|1961||The Stanley Brothers||Harmony Records||HL-7291||recorded in 1949|
|1961||Old Country Church||Gusto Records||0084|
|1962||Award Winners at the Folk Song Festival||King Records||791||live|
|1962||Good Old Camp Meeting Songs||King Records||805|
|1962||The Mountain Music Sound of the Stanley Brothers||Starday Records||SLP-201|
|1962||Old Time Camp Meeting||King Records||750|
|1963||Folk Concert from the Heart of America||King Records||834||reissued as Hollywood HT-248 Just Because|
|1963||The Country Folk Music Spotlight||King Records||864|
|1963||The World's Finest Five String Banjo||King Records||872||alternate title: Banjo in the Hills|
|1963||Hard Times||Mercury Records||MG 20884||SR 60884 stereo|
|1964||Hymns of the Cross||King Records||918||with George Shuffler|
|1965||The Remarkable Stanley Brothers Play and Sing Bluegrass Songs for You||King Records||924|
|1965||Songs of Mother and Home||Wango Records||LP 106||reissued 1973 as County 738|
|1966||The Stanley Brothers: Their Original Recordings||Melodeon Records||MLP 7322||1947 Rich-R-Tone sessions, recorded in Bristol, Tennessee|
|1966||A Collection of Original Gospel & Sacred Songs||King Records||963||original title: The Greatest Country and Western Show On Earth|
|1966||Jacob's Vision||Starday Records||SLP-384|
|1966||The Stanley Brothers Goes to Europe||Rimrock Records||RLP 200|
|1966||The Angels are Singing||Harmony Records||HL 7377||HS 11177 stereo|
|1966||Carter & Ralph||Starday Records||NLP-2037|
|1966||John's Gospel Quartet||Wango Records||LP 103||reissued 1977 as County 753|
|1966||John's Country Quartet||Wango Records||LP 104||reissued 1973 as County 739|
|1966||John's Gospel Quartet||Wango Records||LP 105||reissued 1976 as County 754|
|1966||Bluegrass Gospel Favorites||Cabin Creek Records||203|
|1967||Stanley Brothers Sing the Best-Loved Sacred Songs of Carter Stanley||King Records||1013|
|1967||An Empty Mansion: In Memory of Carter Stanley||Rimrock Records||RLP 153||reissued 1978 as Old Homestead Records 118|
|1967||A Beautiful Life||Rimrock Records||RLP 200||reissued 1978 as Old Homestead 119|
|1967||Gospel Singing as Pure as the Mountain Stream||Rimrock Records||RLP 200|
|1969||How Far to Little Rock||King Records||KLP-1046|
|1970||Sweeter Than the Flowers||Nashville||NLP-2078||also NA7-2046-2|
|1970||The Legendary Stanley Brothers, Recorded Live||Rebel Records||SLP 1487|
|1970||The Legendary Stanley Brothers, Recorded Live, Vol 2||Rebel Records||SLP 1495|
|1971||Together for the Last Time||Lisa Joy||10329||recorded live in 1956 and 1966, reissued 1972 as Rebel Records SLP 1512|
|1972||On Radio: Great 1960 Radio Shows||Rebel Records||1115||recorded in Live Oak, Florida|
|1972||Stanley Brothers - Together for the Last Time||Rebel Records||SLP-1512|
|1973||Stanley Brothers of Virginia||County Records||739|
|1976||Stanley Brothers on the Air||Wango Records||115|
|1980||Columbia Sessions Vol. 1||Rounder Records||SS-09|
|1980||Columbia Sessions Vol. 2||Rounder Records||SS-10|
|1984||On Radio Vol. 1||County Records||780|
|1984||On Radio Vol. 2||County Records||781|
|1984||Starday Sessions||County Records||106/107|
|1988||The Stanley Brothers on WCYB Bristol Farm & Fun Time||Rebel Records||855||recorded 1947|
|1994||Clinch Mountain Bluegrass||Vanguard Records||77018-2||live, Newport Folk Festival, 1959 and 1964|
|1997||Earliest Recordings||Rich-R-Tone Records||6004||recorded 1947-1952|
|2004||An Evening Long Ago||Legacy Recordings||CK-86747||recorded in Bristol, VA, March 1956|
|2004||The Last Show of the Stanley Brothers: Brown County Jamboree||Stanleytone Records||recorded in Bean Blossom, IN, October 16, 1966|
|2005||Rainbow Quest: The Stanley Brothers and Doc Watson||Shanachie Records||605||DVD, season 1, episode 18, 1965|
|1960||"How Far to Little Rock"||17|
- ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 2361/2. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- ^ a b Stambler, Irwin; Grelun Landon (2000). Country Music: The Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 457–8. ISBN 0-312-26487-9. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
- ^ Back of 33rpm album cover "In Memory of Carter Stanley/ An Empty Mansion by The Stanley Brothers. Testimonial story by Ralph Stanley. Old Homestead Records OHCS 118.
- ^ Malone, McCulloh 1975, p. 426.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 80.
- ^ Wright 1995, p. 3.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 82.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 84.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 87.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 88.
- ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 85.
- ^ Wright 1995, p. 4.
- ^ "Folklife Database: Recording of the Suwannee River Jamboree radio program". floridamemory.com. State Library and Archives of Florida. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- ^ Wright 1995, p. 5.
- ^ "Les Woodie passes". Blugrasstoday.com. March 26, 2018.
- ^ Pennell, Charley (November 10, 2009). "Blue Grass Singles by Artist". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942 -. ibiblio. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- ^ Abrams, Steven (September 2, 2009). "COLUMBIA (Microphone label, USA) 20500 - 21000 Numerical Listing". The Online Discographical Project. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- ^ Abrams, Steven (October 28, 2009). "Mercury Numerical Listing - 70000 Series". The Online Discographical Project. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- ^ Edwards, David; Callahan, Mike (January 10, 1998). "King/Federal/DeLuxe Story". Album Discographies. Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- ^ Pennell, Charley (January 10, 1998). "Blue Grass LPs by Artist". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942 -. ibiblio. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- ^ Praguefrank (March 15, 2009). "Stanley Brothers". Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
- ^ Lambert, Gerard "Rocky" (April 5, 2007). "Stanley Brothers". Discographie Rock 'N' Country (in French). Retrieved December 28, 2009.
- Johnson, David W. (2013) Lonesome Melodies: The Lives and Music of the Stanley Brothers, University Press of Mississippi
- Malone, Bill C. (1975) Judith McCulloh, Stars of Country Music, University of Illinois Press
- Rosenberg, Neil V. (2005) Bluegrass: A History, University of Illinois Press
- Wright, John (1995) Traveling the High Way Home, University of Illinois Press
- Reid, Gary B. (2015) "The Music of the Stanley Brothers, University of Illinois Press
- Stanley Brothers' biography
- Recording of "We Are Going to Paint the Town" from a 1958 Florida radio show (made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida)
- Podcast (mp3) of one of the Stanley Brothers' Suwannee River Jamboree radio show from 1958 (made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida)
- Ralph Stanley Museum & Traditional Mountain Music Center, official website of the Ralph Stanley Museum
- Man of Constant Sorrow at Barter Theatre
- Production photos from Man of Constant Sorrow at buddywoodward.net
- The Stanley Brothers - a listing of all their songs at hankwilliamslistings.com
- The Stanley Brothers discography at Discogs
- The Stanley Brothers at IMDb
- Lonesome Melodies: The Lives and Music of the Stanley Brothers (2013)