Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Succumbs to Cancer at 89

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Bluegrass music legend and three-time Grammy Award winner Ralph Stanley died Thursday at the age of 89, his rep confirmed to ABC News. Grandson Nathan Stanley broke the news on his Facebook page Thursday evening, noting that his grandfather “went peacefully in his sleep [after] a long, horrible battle with skin cancer.”

A Virginia native, the banjo virtuoso first rose to fame in the mid 1940s with his band the Clinch Mountain Boys. He later formed the duo The Stanley Brothers with sibling Carter Stanley. They charted the top-20 single “How Far to Little Rock” in 1960.

After Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph embarked on a successful solo career, later finding a legion of new fans through his work on the 2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and earning a Grammy for best male country vocal performance for the song “O Death.” His contributions to the soundtrack also made him part of its Album of the Year Grammy win. A year later he won a third Grammy, this one in the Best Bluegrass Album category for Lost in the Lonesome Pines with the Clinch Mountain Boys. 

Stanley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000 and was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jimmie; children Lisa Stanley Marshall, Tonya Armes Stanley and Ralph Stanley II; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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