DACULA, Ga. – A staple of the modern-day Skillet Lickers, Fleet Stanley, longtime dobro player for the band, passed away on Monday. Known for his impeccable musical talent, his silk smooth voice, and infectious, warm, hospitable personality, Stanley was known as much for his presence off the stage as he was for his musicianship. This persona made Stanley loved with people of all kinds and attracted even the youngest of fans.
Stanley grew up in Dacula, attending Dacula High School and performing frequently with Phil Tanner and Larry Nash for over a half century. When his work with the FBI called him away from home, Stanley never lost touch with his friends or the music he loved, returning to Georgia frequently to perform with his old friends.
Songs such as “Maggie”, “Lorena”, and “Wabash Cannonball” will forever be synonymous with Fleet Stanley. His distinct voice, coupled with the smooth slide of his dobro will always hold a place in the hearts of so many.
Stanley was also a staple at the “Chicken House,” the site of the band’s weekly Friday night jam session which saw musicians of all kinds gathering together to perform classic Skillet Lickers songs and other favorites. For his two decades post-retirement, Stanley would drive an hour-and-a-half from his mountain home each Friday night to participate in the often-lengthy jams, which would often last well into the night.
One of Stanley’s more recent highlights of his musical career was performing in “Smoke on the Mountain” and “Sanders Family Christmas,” two musicals that took place at the Cumming Playhouse from 2015-2018. Not only was he known to love the wholesome productions himself, but his greatest memory was the camaraderie and fellowship among the cast of the show every night.
Stanley’s love for music would only be surpassed by his love for his wife of over 57 years, Kay Stanley. The two were nearly always seen together at shows, supporting one another with a love that was unrivaled.
Plans are currently in the works for a special, extended virtual tribute show. More details will be announced in the coming days on SkilletLickers.org and the Skillet Lickers Facebook page.
In the meantime, current members of the band have issued the following statements on Stanley’s passing:
“Of all the people who have been a part of the “Skillet Licker Family” no one loved music more than Fleet. He’s the guy that was willing to drive 12 hours to play a 30 minute show. We are all really going to miss him. He had the ability to take an old song and sing it in a way that made it new every time you heard him sing it. Whether it be a gospel song or country ballad Fleet had his heart in every song he sang. He was just one of those people who make you feel what he was singing, not just hear it. Thank you Fleet for your years of friendship and music. You made us all better.” – RUSS TANNER
“So saddened to hear of Fleet’s passing. He was the first dobro player that I ever played with and had his own style. A lot of good musical memories over the past 50 odd years. He will definitely be missed. Rest in peace, my friend.” – LARRY NASH
“I have enjoyed Fleet’s friendship and playing music with him for the last twenty years. His absence has left a void in our music and fellowship since the time he became unable to perform. So long old friend. We’ll see you on the other side.” – JOEL ADERHOLD
“We’ve been long time friends from high school, our families were so close, and we enjoyed our many times together playing music. I will always hold those memories close.” – PHIL TANNER
Sending hugs and prayers for comfort to the friends and family of this true southern gentleman…
Josh, this is Margaret and Ken Agee from Alabama. We have just discovered that Fleet has passed away. We have tried for a couple of years to contact him but to no avail. We were very said to hear the news and was wondering about Kay. We have still not been able to locate her. Her name was not mentioned in the obituary. We miss our past trips to Georgia as we too are no longer driving. We no longer have a landline phone. My cell # is 334-455-1071 and Margaret’s is 334-455-4280. If anyone cares to call we would love to hear. Also would love to hear from Wren and Gary. Fleet and Kay were extra special to us and we loved them dearly. Rest In Peace Fleet.