Sonny Osborne, One-Half of Bluegrass Duo the Osborne Brothers, Dead at 83
Sonny Osborne, a banjoist and member of the Osborne Brothers, died on Sunday (Oct. 24) at around 1:30 PM, Bluegrass Today reports, at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn. He was five days shy of his 84th birthday.
A titan of the bluegrass genre who was known for incorporating a wide variety of musical sounds and styles into his work, Osborne and his brother and bandmate, Bobby Osborne, were born in rural Kentucky and grew up near Dayton, Ohio. They began pursuing music as teenagers, and by the early 1950s, they'd begun to perform both independently and together in local venues. In 1960, they became the first bluegrass group to perform on a college campus with a set at Antioch College.
The Osborne Brothers were perhaps best known for their 1967 hit "Rocky Top," which charted inside country radio's Top 40 upon its release, but they also enjoyed success with releases such as "Up This Hill & Down," "Making Plans," "Midnight Flyer" and "Tennessee Hound Dog." They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1964, and they joined the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sonny Osborne retired in the early 2000s, but remained a vibrant part of the bluegrass community long after he officially left the stage. He ran a weekly column called Ask Sonny Anything on Bluegrass Today, and co-founded the Osborne Brothers Festival, an annual event in the duo's hometown of Hyden, Ky.
In August, Osborne suffered a stroke; however, his cause of death was not immediately clear. His family has not yet announced any public funeral arrangements.