So far, 2016 has been a tough year for the country music community. Many of the genre's greatest legends have passed away, leaving their fellow artists in mourning. On Thursday (June 23), the community once again had to come to terms with the loss of another legend, bluegrass musician Dr. Ralph Stanley.
News of Stanley's death was confirmed by his grandson, Nathan, who said his grandfather passed away peacefully in his sleep following a battle with skin cancer.
"I love you papaw with all of my heart," Nathan wrote. "As long as I live and breathe, your legacy will never die. You will forever be in my heart."
Many members of the country music community took to social media to mourn the loss of the man who had done so much to help develop bluegrass music. One artist who took the news especially hard was bluegrass singer and musician Ricky Skaggs, who has gone on to become a legend in his own right.
As a young teen, Skaggs and future country star Keith Whitley were given the opportunity of a lifetime when they were able to open for Stanley. Before long, Stanley invited the two to join his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, which helped lead them both on their own paths to fame.
In a statement Skaggs released, he said that Stanley's death marks "the end of an era." He also spoke of what Stanley meant to him personally, saying that he was his "hero":
"The end of an era, the passing of a King, a kind and humble King from the mountains. He carried the ancient sounds from God knows where. Ralph found it in the music of the mountains, in the hollows, in the people and in the churches. He was my hero and I was blessed to know him, love him and make music with him as a young teenager. The Scriptures tell us 'God uses the simple things to confound the wise.' He certainly used Ralph Stanley to bring the music of the mountains to the masses."
Thanks to Stanley, future generations were able to learn about and develop a love for bluegrass music. It is a love he placed in Skaggs' heart, leaving him to carry the torch for the next generation.
Skaggs put it best, the country music community has lost a true King and a real legend. We'll be keeping Stanley's friends and family in our prayers.
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