24 July 2015

Patsy Stoneman, 1925-2015

The Stoneman sisters: (l-r) Donna, Patsy, Roni (photo from Patuxent Music website)

We learn with great regret from Bluegrass Today that Pattie Inez 'Patsy' Stoneman, daughter of Ernest Van 'Pop' Stoneman (1893-1968), has died at the age of 90.

Patsy, like her siblings, played several instruments; she led her own band for a time, and took up the autoharp in the 1960s to continue her father's tradition. After his death she rejoined the family band and fronted it on guitar, autoharp, and lead vocals. In 1965 she married John J. Murphy, jr., 'the best thing that has ever happened to me'. Her recollections are a major source for Ivan M. Tribe's The Stonemans: an Appalachian family and the music that shaped their lives (University of Illinois Press, 1993). She is survived by her sisters Donna LaVerne (b. 1934) and Veronica Loretta 'Roni' (b. 1938), with whom she recorded two recent albums for the Patuxent Music label.
About 1990 the late 'Cowboy' Jack Clement recorded a major interview with Patsy, dealing largely with her father's musical career, which can be read here. Instrument enthusiasts who have been curious about the large-body guitar shown in early photos of Ernest Stoneman should read 'Recreating Ernest Stoneman's Galiano guitar', posted by Michael John Simmons on the Fretboard Journal website. The fine photos include one of Patsy, flanked by her sisters, trying out Todd Cambio's Galiano replica.

Update 18 Aug.: An obituary by Richard Thompson can now be read on Bluegrass Today.

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