Dr. Ralph Stanley, the iconic bluegrass singer, died Thursday. He was 89.

Dr. Ralph Stanley Dies

Stanley’s death was announced by his grandson Nathan Stanley on Facebook in an emotional post. Nathan revealed that his grandfather had died after a protracted battle with skin cancer.

“My heart is broken into pieces. My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago,” Nathan wrote. “He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with Skin Cancer. I feel so lost and so alone right now. He was my world, and he was my everything. He was always there for me no matter what. I just cannot get a grip on this.”

Nathan added, “My Papaw was loved by millions of fans from all around the world, and he loved all of you. If he was singing snd on sage, he was happy. That’s why I did so much to make it possible for him to travel in the last two years. Because he wanted to. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to face in my life. The only thing that gives me peace, is knowing he is in paradise and I’ll see my best friend again. I love you papaw with all of my heart. As long as I live and breathe, your legacy will never die. You will forever be in my heart.”

Stanley began performing with his brother Carter Stanley as The Stanley Brothers in 1946 after serving in the Army. They were signed to Columbia Records in 1948 after impressing with their renditions of “Pretty Polly,” “Little Glass of Wine” and other tracks. In the 50s, the brothers were signed to Mercury Records and headed to Nashville. With Mercury, they recorded “I’m Lonesome Without You and “Memories of Mother.”

Following Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph Stanley continued as a solo artist with The Clinch Mountain Boys. His career hit a new level in 2000 when his music was featured on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. He won a Grammy for “O Death” from the album. 2000 was also the year Stanley was named a Library of Congress Living Legend. In 2006, Stanley received the National Medal of the Arts. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.

Stanley is survived by his wife Jimmi Stanley, children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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