Ralph Stanley, a patriarch of bluegrass music, died Thursday at the age of 89 years old.
According to Stanley’s son, his father died peacefully in his sleep following “a long, horrible battle with skin cancer.”
A member of both the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry, Stanley’s music career spanned seven decades. He began playing banjo at the age of 15, and four years later he and his brother Carter formed the Clinch Mountain Boys. Following Carter’s death in 1966, Stanley moved forward with a new group of musicians including Larry Sparks and Ricky Skaggs, future legends in their own right.
To the general public, Stanley is perhaps best known for his contributions to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Teaming with T-Borne Burnett, Stanley’s rendition of traditional American folk song “O’Death” went on to win a Grammy Award in 2002. That same year, he and Burnett worked together on a self-titled solo album, which proved to be his best-selling release.