Kaz Inaba remembers Ralph Stanley

Kat Inaba with Ralph Stanley in Japan (1975)The tributes to Ralph Stanley this past week have been both numerous and poignant, demonstrating how deeply his music and his kindness have touched others over a 70 year career.

One that we just received shows that it wasn’t just in his native southwestern Virginia that his deep impact was felt.

Japanese bluegrass artist Kazuhiro Inaba was just 15 years old when Stanley made a visit to the island nation in 1975, and the experience helped convince the young lad that a life of bluegrass was worth the effort.

Kaz sent along this brief remembrance, along with video of a Ralph Stanley tribute he offered during a performance last weekend.

“Dr. Ralph Stanley was the very first artist from abroad I saw when I was fifteen years old, just right after I started to play the banjo in 1975.

He was with Curly Ray Cline and Keith Whitley. Jack Cooke didn’t make it on this tour. I still remember the sight so clearly.

Ralph Stanley’s 2-LP set album, Live In Japan, was the very first album I bought by myself back in those days.

I’ve listened to a lot of recordings of the Stanley Brothers and Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain boys. They’ve put lots of influence on me.

Here is a small tribute I did for Ralph at my recent concert in Kobe, Japan on June 26, 2016.”


May his music always be heard wherever bluegrass music is played.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.