Composed

BMI’s database credits Larry Sparks with 46 published compositions, co-compositions, and arrangements. A few of his original songs and collaborations are:

  • “Goodbye Little Darlin’”
  • “He’s Everything to Me”
  • “Thank You, Lord”
  • “These Old Blues”

Early Influences

  • Father, who played clawhammer banjo
  • Bernice Sparks (older sister)
  • Stanley Brothers
  • Earl Scruggs
  • Don Reno
  • Bill Napier

Came to Fame With

  • Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1967-1969

Performed With

  • Slade Mountain Boys, 1962
  • Irvin Mackintosh & His Band, 1964
  • Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1964-1965
  • Larry Sparks and the Sandy Mountain Boys,ca. 1966
  • Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1967-1969
  • Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers, 1969-present

Led the Way

  • Lead singer/guitarist in Ralph Stanley’s first post-Stanley Brothers band.
  • Developed a highly individual style as a vocalist and guitarist.
  • Mentored numerous musicians who went on to lead successful careers.
  • SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats Inductee, 1990.
  • IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 2015.

By the Way

  • Likes to wear pressed Levi’s jeans.
  • Listens to the Grand Ole Opry on a 1938 Zenith radio because the reception reminds him of how he heard the station in his youth.
  • Collects and restores vintage automobiles, including a 1938 Buick and a 1957 Oldsmobile.
  • Sometimes starts up his tour bus at home to be lulled by noise of the diesel engine.

Composed

BMI’s database credits Larry Sparks with 46 published compositions, co-compositions, and arrangements. A few of his original songs and collaborations are:

  • “Goodbye Little Darlin’”
  • “He’s Everything to Me”
  • “Thank You, Lord”
  • “These Old Blues”

Early Influences

  • Father, who played clawhammer banjo
  • Bernice Sparks (older sister)
  • Stanley Brothers
  • Earl Scruggs
  • Don Reno
  • Bill Napier

Came to Fame With

  • Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1967-1969

Performed With

  • Slade Mountain Boys, 1962
  • Irvin Mackintosh & His Band, 1964
  • Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1964-1965
  • Larry Sparks and the Sandy Mountain Boys,ca. 1966
  • Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, 1967-1969
  • Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers, 1969-present

Led the Way

  • Lead singer/guitarist in Ralph Stanley’s first post-Stanley Brothers band.
  • Developed a highly individual style as a vocalist and guitarist.
  • Mentored numerous musicians who went on to lead successful careers.
  • SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats Inductee, 1990.
  • IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 2015.

By the Way

  • Likes to wear pressed Levi’s jeans.
  • Listens to the Grand Ole Opry on a 1938 Zenith radio because the reception reminds him of how he heard the station in his youth.
  • Collects and restores vintage automobiles, including a 1938 Buick and a 1957 Oldsmobile.
  • Sometimes starts up his tour bus at home to be lulled by noise of the diesel engine.

From the Archives

“I feel I’ve helped a lot of people with my songs, especially the gospel songs. I get letters in the mail and people tell me how they enjoy this certain song and the gospel music, how much it means to them.... You get that energy from the people and you keep going. I guess through all of it, I wanted to make some kind of a mark in bluegrass, bring something in it that people can remember. I think I’ve done that even if I never make another twenty-five.”
Quoted by Gary Reid in “25 Years With Larry Sparks,” Bluegrass Unlimited, April 1988.
“I think the music needs me, and I need the music – we're friends, you see – and as far as retiring, I don't think I would even think of it. There's a lot of time into it, a lot of years, and it takes a lot of years in this business, in bluegrass, to be successful, to make it.”
Quoted by John Lupton in “Life Begins at ‘40’ for Larry Sparks,” Country Standard Time, May 2005.
“I’ve lived long enough to see bluegrass change. It used to be not too cool a music to play because people looked at it more like hillbilly cornfield music and didn’t respect it. But it takes a lot of talent to play this music and play it right. It’s better than it has ever been now and deserves to be out front more than it has been.”
Quoted by Jim Bessman in “Bluegrass Greats Seek Greater Sales,” Billboard, February 26, 2005.
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