Renowned Artist Bobby Osborne, Honored Member of the Grand Ole Opry and the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Passes Away
Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne, Half of The Osborne Brothers and Popularizer of “Rocky Top,” Passes Away at 91
The passing of Bobby Osborne, one-half of the highly acclaimed bluegrass duo The Osborne Brothers and renowned for their rendition of “Rocky Top,” occurred at the age of 91.
The Grand Ole Opry, which honored The Osborne Brothers with induction in 1964, confirmed Bobby Osborne’s demise on Tuesday afternoon.
Expressing his condolences, Dan Rogers, the executive producer of the Opry, stated, “Bobby Osborne was one of the last remaining bluegrass pioneers of his generation. His loss is deeply felt by the Opry family and bluegrass music enthusiasts worldwide. Mr. Osborne’s legacy will forever resonate on this cherished stage and wherever his unique style is echoed. We extend our gratitude to Bobby Osborne for more than 70 years of music and unforgettable memories.”
Born as Bobby Van Osborne, he formed The Osborne Brothers alongside his brother Sonny Osborne, leaving an indelible mark in bluegrass music with his exceptional mandolin skills and soaring vocal range. The duo’s roots trace back to 1953, and their iconic rendition of “Rocky Top,” composed by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, was recorded in 1967.
Additionally, The Osborne Brothers are recognized for their hits such as “Pain In My Heart,” “Ruby Are You Mad,” and “Tennessee Hound Dog.”
Iconic Bluegrass Artist Bobby Osborne, Half of The Osborne Brothers and Mastermind Behind “Rocky Top,” Passes Away at 91
Bobby Osborne, part of the beloved bluegrass duo The Osborne Brothers, passed away at the age of 91. The duo made their debut on The Grand Ole Opry ten years into their musical journey, and four years later, their rendition of “Rocky Top” propelled them to international stardom, leading to performances around the world. During the height of the song’s popularity, The Osborne Brothers would open and close their shows with “Rocky Top.”
As the elder brother from Leslie County, Kentucky, Bobby Osborne and Sonny Osborne formed the family duo upon Bobby’s return from serving in the Korean War. They performed together until Sonny retired in 2005. However, Bobby remained committed to his craft, stating in a 2021 interview with WYMT, “I was born to do it, and I ain’t going to quit.”
Throughout their five-decade career, The Osborne Brothers achieved numerous milestones, including joining the Grand Ole Opry, winning a CMA Award, and performing at the White House. Bobby Osborne, a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, also taught at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music in Leslie County, which is part of Hazard Community and Technical College.
Following Sonny Osborne’s retirement, Bobby continued to perform under the name Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-press. Despite his advanced age, Bobby remained true to his passion, recording and performing. In 2017, his album “Original” earned him a Grammy nomination, marking his last full-length release before his passing.
Paul Schiminger, interim executive director at the International Bluegrass Music Association, expressed, “To say he was a legend falls short of the impact he had on all of us… An innovative musical pioneer, Bobby set and held the gold standard for bluegrass vocals.”
In January, Bobby Osborne received the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, acknowledging his significant contributions in sharing Kentucky’s artistic heritage worldwide. His final performance at The Grand Ole Opry took place about five weeks prior to his passing, on May 19, 2023.
“I’ve been a dedicated person to bluegrass music, so I’m going to do it until the man upstairs says you can’t do it no more,” Bobby Osborne expressed in 2021, as reported by The Tennessean.