Sonny Osborne, bluegrass banjoist behind 'Rocky Top,' dies

Posted at 8:04 AM, Oct 26, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bluegrass musician and singer Sonny Osborne, who created the banjo licks on "Rocky Top" as part of the The Osborne Brothers, has died. He was 84.

His death on Sunday was first announced on the website Bluegrass Today, where he was a columnist. Together with his brother Bobby, who sang and played the mandolin, they helped popularize and modernize the genre.

“Rocky Top,” written by songwriting couple Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, was released in 1967 and became a sports anthem for the University of Tennessee as well as an official state song of Tennessee.