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POTD: Larry Sparks

Written by on May 20, 2024

Larry Sparks: A Bluegrass Legend

Larry Eugene Sparks, born on September 25, 1947, in Lebanon, Ohio, is an American bluegrass singer and guitarist. For decades he has built his career to a high level, leaving an indelible mark on the bluegrass music scene. Let’s delve into the life and musical journey of this talented artist.

Early Influences and Career Beginnings

Larry Sparks became interested in music at a young age, inspired by his older sister Bernice, who taught him a few guitar basics. His family hailed from Jackson County, Kentucky, in the heart of the Appalachians.Early on, he was often listening to the Grand Ol Opry and tuned in to radio station WCKY, soaking up the sounds of country and bluegrass.

Sparks’ guitar skills blossomed, influenced by artists like Wayne Raney, the Stanley Brothers, Tommy Sutton, and Paul “Moon” Mullins. His bluegrass journey officially began when he joined the Stanley Brothers in 1964. An audition led to his role as the guitarist for Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys after Carter Stanley’s passing in 1966.

Pioneering Bluegrass Standards

With Ralph Stanley, Larry Sparks recorded original versions of modern bluegrass classics, including:

“I Only Exist”

“Sharecropper’s Son”

“Going Up Home To Live in Green Pastures”

These timeless songs continue to resonate with bluegrass enthusiasts worldwide.

The Lonesome Ramblers and Ongoing Success

In 1969, Sparks left the Clinch Mountain Boys and formed his band, the Lonesome Ramblers. Over the years, the lineup changed, but Sparks remained a dedicated leader for bluegrass music. His soulful vocals and masterful guitar playing earned him recognition and respect within the industry.

Awards and Hall of Fame Induction

Larry Sparks’ contributions to bluegrass did not go unnoticed. He won the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Male Vocalist of the Year Award in 2004 and 2005. His album “40,” also celebrated 40 years in bluegrass music, received IBMA honors for Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year.

In 2015, Sparks was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, cementing his legacy as a true bluegrass legend.


Larry Sparks’ soul-stirring performances, heartfelt lyrics, and virtuoso guitar playing continue to captivate audiences. His enduring impact on bluegrass music ensures his name will forever resonate among fans and fellow musicians.

For more information, visit Larry Sparks’ official website: Larry Sparks Official Website.

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