Ralph King passes

Ralph A. King passed away on Thursday, February 1, 2018, at Zephyrhills Hospital in Zephyrhills, Florida, following an apparent heart attack. He was 81 years old.

Born on May 2, 1936, in Dabolt, Kentucky, King was a former member of the Kentucky Gentlemen and part of the ensemble the Traveling Crusaders led by George Brock.  

He was known for being a skilled banjo player and a fine tenor singer. In addition to being able to play the banjo, he could play the guitar, mandolin and Dobro. 

During the 1960s King played with Vernon Bowling & the Silver Hill Boys, and later with George Brock and the Traveling Crusaders; during his time with both they recorded some excellent traditional bluegrass music for Bob Mooney’s REM label. 

This video clip includes almost all of the 12 tracks on the I Thought of Mother and Dad LP released by George Brock, Ralph King & the Traveling Crusaders (REM 1013, 1966) …. 

He helped to form the Kentucky Gentlemen in 1973 and worked with them through to 1981. During that time the Kentucky Gentlemen recorded eight albums.  

Since the early 1980s King had worked with Gary Strong and Hardtimes and Sam Jones and Plumbline. 

He travelled most of his life playing bluegrass shows and appeared on stage with many well-known artists, and performed on the Grand OId Opry show and in many churches, mostly in Indiana. 

King retired from GTE Corporation, formerly General Telephone & Electronics Corporation, after 21 years of service and, following his retirement, he worked at CRF Residential in Connersville, Indiana, for 10 years. While there, and later in Florida, he loved to use his musical talents to witness and encourage people in the nursing homes and rehabilitation centres. 

He enjoyed jam sessions with his friends and to go fishing, play golf and spend time with his family. 

Ralph King R.I.P. 

A Discography –

Vernon Bowling & the Silver Hill Boys …

Shelter in a Storm / Someone is Waiting for You (REM 359, released in 1965)

George Brock, Ralph King & the Traveling Crusaders 

I Thought of Mother and Dad (REM LP 1013, 1966)

Ernest Martin ‎…

The Last Inauguration (Pine Tree Records PTSLP 503, 1966)

The Traveling Crusaders … 

They Laid Her to Rest in The Mountains (Down Home Records 10857, 1971)

Kentucky Gentlemen …

  • Headin’ South (Pine Tree PTSLP-518, 1974)
  • True Bluegrass (King Bluegrass KB-534, 1975)
  • A Day in October (King Bluegrass KB-544, September 1976)
  • Kentucky Heritage by Kentucky Gentlemen (King Bluegrass KB-560, 1977) 
  • Most Requested (Old Homestead OHS-90094, 1978) 
  • Sweet Summer Dream (Programme Audio PAS-012179, January 21, 1979)
  • New Times (Old Homestead OHS-90129, 1981) 
  • Seven Times Around (Jewel JRC-81026, 11-1981)

J. D. Jarvis and Ralph King with the White Water Valley Boys … 

Spaceship Song / Tragedy of Sandy River (Ark 212)

Gary Strong & Hardtimes …

Gary Strong & Hardtimes (Central CRS 82-107, 1983) 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.