Ralph Stanley, the Patriarch of bluegrass, was memorialized on Tuesday evening during a public service at his Hills of Home Park in Coeburn, Va.
Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs were among the musicians who paid tribute to the bluegrass legend. All three of them have been tremendously influenced by Stanley’s music.
The trio shared the stage for “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” a moving song Gill began writing in 1989 shortly after country singer Keith Whitley died, and later finished after his brother died of a heart attack in 1993. Skaggs and Loveless sing backup harmonies on the recording and occasionally perform the song with him on stage.
“If it had not been for the music of the Stanley Brothers, especially Ralph’s voice, I wouldn’t have known how to write this song, and I wouldn’t have known how to sing this song,” said Gill.
Stanley’s music also made a tremendous impression on Loveless, particularly during the early years of her career.
“He was the one that taught me how to sing,” said Loveless. “When I was a little girl, I didn’t know it, but when I would listen — when Daddy would listen and Mom would listen to the music … it reached inside my heart, and I continue to try my best to touch people’s lives as Ralph did with his voice.”
Ricky Skaggs, who did not speak in the video above, was a member of Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys at the same time Keith Whitley was in the band. Skaggs and Whitley’s harmonies have been described as sounding “almost sound more like Carter and Ralph than Carter and Ralph themselves.”
Stanley died on June 23 following a battle with skin cancer at the age of 89.