Clinch Mountain Boys' bassist dead at 72

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 6:30pm
Staff Reports

Jack Cooke, long-time bass player and singer with Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, died Tuesday at a hospital in his hometown of Norton, Va., after reportedly collapsing at his home, his publicist announced Wednesday.

Vernon Crawford “Jack” Cooke was born Dec. 6, 1936. His first professional job was playing with the Stanley Brothers while he was still in his teens. He left the Stanleys to join Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys band, a post he held from 1956-1960. During that time, he recorded such songs with Monroe as “Gotta Travel On,” “Big Mon” and “Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone.”

Later, he formed his own group, Jack Cooke and the Virginia Mountain Boys, and played in bands headed by Earl Taylor and the Stonemans. He joined the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1970 and remained there until he was sidelined by health problems earlier this year.

In 2002, he shared with the Clinch Mountain Boys a best bluegrass album Grammy for Lost In The Lonesome Pines, a collection headlined by Jim Lauderdale and Stanley. Lauderdale produced Cooke’s only solo album, Sittin’ On Top Of The World, which was released in 2007.

Visitation will be at Hagy & Fawbush Funeral Home in Norton on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. with the funeral immediately following.