Art Stamper was the son of Hiram Stamper, the grandson of Martha Stewart Stamper, the great grandson of Jasper Byrd Stewart

"I was born in a log house in the head of a holler up there in Knott County, Kentucky, about a mile and a half from Hindman. It’s Terry Fork of Ball Creek. At the mouth of that Creek we had a one-room schoolhouse, and my second cousin was Mavis Stewart. And she married a Noble. Mavis was my second cousin and she taught me eight years in a one-room schoolhouse. She was an excellent teacher. We just lost her about three or four years ago. And I know she had her hands full because you know how boys are. We were as mean as snakes back in those days anyway. And I told her, I said, maybe she should have killed every one of us and she said, well Art, we wanted to see that everyone learned something. She was really a good teacher."

Art Stamper, Spring 2003, Louisville Bluegrass Music Association Newsletter.

Obituary

Bluegrass pioneer Art Stamper dead at 71
Associated Press

January 23. 2005

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Art Stamper, a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame who performed with the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, died after a four-year battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

Stamper, considered a bluegrass pioneer among his peers, died Sunday night in Louisville.

His style emphasized melody and emotion over speed.

"It's almost overwhelming to think about Art as being one of the first, but he was right there," said acclaimed mandolinist Sam Bush.

"Art was from the first generation of fiddle players to combine old-time music and mountain fiddling with the blues that was part of bluegrass," Bush said. "By that, I mean he was bending the notes to mimic the way a person sings."

Stamper was a native of Hindman in eastern Kentucky and a longtime resident of Shepherdsville, near Louisville.

"You're never a hero in your own hometown, I guess, but Art was one of the first to record bluegrass music back when he was with the Stanley Brothers," said Harry Bickel, a Louisville bluegrass musician and historian. "He grew up in that eastern Kentucky tradition that a lot of fiddlers never got to witness."

Bickel teamed with Stamper on his final recording, "Wake Up Darlin' Corey," released late last year on Country Records.

Stamper also performed with the Osborne Brothers and the Goins Brothers, among many others.

Last year, Stamper received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, joining the likes of Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Kenny Baker and Monroe.

His father, Hiram, was an accomplished old-time musician, and Stamper followed suit at age 9. He was a professional by age 16 and joined Ralph and Carter Stanley's band in 1952, just in time to help define a new genre of music eventually called bluegrass.

"Art Stamper is a classic Kentucky fiddler and a giant in traditional mountain music and the bluegrass style that evolved from it," wrote musician and historian Eugene Chadbourne in the "All Music Guide." "When the ... soundtrack for `O Brother, Where Art Thou?' became a hit, there was speculation that the `Art' in the title might be Art Stamper."

Stamper retired from a full-time music career in 1956 to raise a family (his son, Blake, released a country album last year).

He became a well-known hairdresser, winning several awards as owner of Louisville's The Way of Art. He never stopped performing, including between haircuts.

"We used to have hair-cutting day at Art's shop," Bickel said. "All of the musicians would go out to Art's and play, taking turns getting our hair cut."

Stamper returned to music full time in 1978, sitting in with a variety of bands, including Monroe's, and recording two highly regarded albums, "The Lost Fiddler" and "Goodbye Girls, I'm Going to Boston."

Besides his son, survivors include his wife, Kay Kawaguchi Stamper; a daughter, Jennifer Stone; and another son, Blane Stamper.

Obituary

Louisville Courier-Journal

STAMPER, ART, 71, of Shepherdsville, was born November 1, 1933, to the late Hiram Sr. and Martha Kelly Stamper in Hindman, KY, in Knott County, KY. He returned to his Heavenly Father on Sunday, January 23, 2005, at Norton Audubon Hospital. Mr. Stamper was an accomplished musician and instructor, which earned him many awards, including the International Bluegrass Distinguished Achievement Award and he was inducted in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Art used his talents in many bands including Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Goins Brothers and Jim and Jesse McReynolds. He also was a retired cosmetologist, a Baptist and a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean conflict. He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife, Kay Kawaguchi Stamper; daughter, Jennifer Stone; sons, Blake Stamper (Denise) and Blane Stamper; sisters, Julianne Moore and Sue Yarbrough (Jack); brothers, Charles Stamper (Akiko), Hiram Stamper and Matt Stamper; four grandchildren; and a host of other relatives and friends. The funeral for Art Stamper will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Schoppenhorst, Underwood and Brooks, Preston Hwy at Brooks Rd., where family and friends may kindly visit after 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Another funeral service will be held at noon Saturday at Hindman Funeral Services in Hindman, KY, with visitation from noon-9 p.m. Friday. Interment will be in Stewart-Stamper Family Cemetery in Knott County, KY.

THE COURIER-JOURNAL

BY PAT MCDONOGH

Art Stamper, a seminal bluegrass fiddle player once described as a "giant of traditional mountain music," died Sunday night in Louisville after a four-year struggle with throat cancer. He was 71. A native of Hindman, Ky., and longtime resident of Shepherdsville, Stamper was considered a bluegrass pioneer by his peers. Among the many bands he performed with, the most notable were the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, the Osborne Brothers and the Goins Brothers.

Last year, Stamper received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, joining the likes of Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Kenny Baker and Monroe. He is also a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. His style emphasized melody and emotion over speed.

"It's almost overwhelming to think about Art as being one of the first, but he was right there," said acclaimed mandolinist Sam Bush.

"Art was from the first generation of fiddle players to combine old-time music and mountain fiddling with the blues that was part of bluegrass," Bush said. "By that, I mean he was bending the notes to mimic the way a person sings."

Harry Bickel, a Louisville bluegrass musician and historian, teamed with Stamper on his final recording, "Wake Up Darlin' Corey," released late last year on Country Records.

"You're never a hero in your own hometown, I guess, but Art was one of the first to record bluegrass music back when he was with the Stanley Brothers," Bickel said. "He grew up in that Eastern Kentucky tradition that a lot of fiddlers never got to witness."

Stamper was born in 1933 in Hindman, in Knott County. His father, Hiram, was an accomplished old-time musician, and Stamper followed suit at age 9. He was a professional by age 16 and joined Ralph and Carter Stanley's band in 1952, just in time to help define a new genre of music eventually called bluegrass.

"Art Stamper is a classic Kentucky fiddler and a giant in traditional mountain music and the bluegrass style that evolved from it," wrote musician and historian Eugene Chadbourne in the "All Music Guide." "When the ? soundtrack for 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' became a hit, there was speculation that the 'Art' in the title might be Art Stamper."

Stamper retired from a full-time music career in 1956 to raise a family (his son, Blake, released a country album last year).

He became a well-known hairdresser, winning several awards as owner of Louisville's The Way of Art. He never stopped performing, including between haircuts.

"We used to have hair-cutting day at Art's shop," Bickel said. "All of the musicians would go out to Art's and play, taking turns getting our hair cut."

Stamper returned to music full time in 1978, sitting in with a variety of bands, including Monroe's, and recording two highly regarded albums, "The Lost Fiddler" and "Goodbye Girls, I'm Going to Boston." The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America named him best old-time fiddler three times, 1986-1988.

"He was a powerful musician, definitely one of the guys who wrote the book on old-time bluegrass fiddling," said Louisville's Steve Cooley, who performed with Stamper in the Goins Brothers band. "He's definitely one of those people who has to be considered a national treasure."