01 December 2016

Remembering Carter Stanley [UPDATE]

The BIB editor writes:

Fifty years ago today, Carter Stanley died at the age of 41 from the effects of alcohol; his younger brother Ralph died on 23 June this year. The sheer vitality of the Stanley Brothers' music is just one reason why it forms a major part of the foundations of bluegrass, and it can be heard right from their earliest recordings (1947-8).

A 96-minute interview with Carter, recorded earlier in 1966, is on YouTube, together with this footage (also from 1966) of Carter, backed by Ralph and George Shuffler, singing one of their classics, 'Rank stranger'. Hundreds more of their recordings are on YouTube, and many have been reissued on single CDs or box sets.

The unrivalled guide to the recorded output of Carter and Ralph is Gary B. Reid's The music of the Stanley Brothers (University of Illinois Press, 2015), which also conveys masses of information about the musicians associated with them, the sources of their material (some surprises here), and much more. Gary Reid is not just the person who knows more about the Stanleys than anyone else in the world: he has created a one-man show, 'A life of sorrow: the life and times of Carter Stanley'. A preview can be seen here.

Update 2 Dec.: A major feature by Richard Thompson can now be read on Bluegrass Today.

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