Bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne dies at 91

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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Bobby Osborne was one-half of the legendary eponymous Bluegrass group from Kentucky that is remembered most for a state song of Tennessee.

A native of Leslie County, Kentucky, Osborne and brother, Sonny, comprised the Bluegrass duo known as the Osborne Brothers.

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Best known for recording “Rocky Top,” Osborne died Tuesday. He was 91.

From 1956-59, the Osborne Brothers played the Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia, and recorded with Red Allen. In 1964, they joined the Grand Ole Opry and had several country chart successes.

Their recording of “Rocky Top” was released on Christmas Day in 1967. The song reportedly sold 85,000 copies within two weeks of its release, and eventually was adopted as a state song for Tennessee in 1982.

The Osborne Brothers toured with Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, and in 1973 were the first to play Bluegrass at the White House. According to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, they are the only band to win both the Country Music Association and Bluegrass Vocal Group of the Year in the same year.

The duo also has been inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

Sonny Osborne died in 2021.