Larry Sparks was born in Lebanon and grew up in nearby Franklin, listening to country, bluegrass, and blues music on the radio. All those styles were incorporated into his unique approach to singing and guitar playing. Larry was raised in a musical family, and his earliest appearances were with his sister Bernice. At the age of seventeen, he got the opportunity to play guitar for the Stanley Brothers, and at nineteen he became Ralph Stanley’s lead singer, after Carter Stanley’s death. Three years later, he formed his own band, the Lonesome Ramblers. He had recorded a single earlier on Jack Lynch’s Jalyn label as Larry Sparks and the Sandy Mountain Boys. Before that, he had his first appearance on record with Erwin Keith and the Slade Mountain Boys on Dayton’s Top Tennessee label. After forming the Lonesome Ramblers, he cut his debut album on the Pine Tree label in Hamilton, entitled Ramblin’ Guitar with half vocals and half instrumentals. This would set the tone for his career, as he was to be as well-known for his bluesy guitar playing as he would for his soulful singing. Sparks cut two more LPs for Pine Tree and four for Cincinnati-based King Bluegrass. After that, he recorded for Old Homestead, Starday, County, Lesco (his own label), June Apple, Acoustic Revival, and a long string of LPs and CDs on Rebel. Larry was selected as the IBMA Vocalist of the Year in both 2004 and 2005, and his CD 40, celebrating his forty years in bluegrass, was selected as both the Album of the Year and the Recorded Event of the Year by the IBMA in 2005. In 2014, he released a CD celebrating fifty years in bluegrass music; it included appearances by several other big-name bluegrass musicians. In 2015, he was elected to the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Since the 1970s, Larry has lived in southeastern Indiana, near the Cincinnati/Dayton region, where he regularly appears. In the late 1970s, he operated Larry Sparks Record Shop and Music Center at 10 North 11th Street in Richmond, Indiana.

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