Bobby Osborne

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Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press performing at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007

Bobby Osborne (born December 7, 1931) is an American bluegrass musician. He is the co-founder (with his brother Sonny Osborne) of the Osborne Brothers and a member of the Grand Ole Opry[1] and the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.[2] He also teaches at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music in Hyden, Kentucky.

Osborne's primary instrument is the mandolin.[2]

Early life[edit]

Osborne was born in Thousandsticks in Leslie County, Kentucky.[3] When he was growing up he helped his father and grandfather at the older man's general store. At the same time he was attracted to the music of the Grand Ole Opry and eventually dropped out of high school to form a band with his brother, Sonny. He helped develop the vocal trio concept in bluegrass music by putting the melody in the tenor voice, instead of putting it in one of the lower voice registers.[4]

Bobby Osborne has released many recordings since the 1950s. The Osborne Brothers recordings of "Rocky Top", and "Kentucky" were named official state songs of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively. Osborne was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951 and served in the Korean War. He was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart.[5]

"Bobby knew nothing about bluegrass music. He was listening to the Grand Ole Opry one night on WSM radio. He liked the sound of that banjo, and found out later on it was Earl Scruggs playing a tune called “Cumberland Gap.” From then on he became interested in that type of music. He appeared on many shows with Ernest Tubb, playing guitar and singing. Ernest Tubb suggested that Bobby play the mandolin to complement his high tenor voice. He took the advice and it remained one of his main instruments for the rest of his career.[6]

Osborne's 2017 solo album ORIGINAL was his first album since Bluegrass & Beyond in 2009. The album was the product of Osborne's collaboration with Peter Rowan, which led him to another collaboration with Alison Brown. The album features many bluegrass/Americana musicians and artists[7] including Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale, Sierra Hull, Claire Lynch, Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury, Robbie McCoury, Stuart Duncan, Rob Ick[8]

He also wrote the song, "Windy City" in 1972, later recorded by Alison Krauss on her LP "Windy City." Krauss recorded the song with Suzanne and Sidney Cox performed the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live.[9][10]

As of 2022 Osborne continues to perform with his band, the Rocky Top X-Press.[11]

Honors and awards[edit]

Inducted to Grand Ole Opry (1964, as member of the Osborne Brothers)[1]

Inducted to International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor (1994, as member of the Osborne Brothers).[2]

Elected to Kentucky Music Hall of Fame (2002, as member of the Osborne Brothers)[12]

Named Vocal Group of the Year by Country Music Association (1971 as member of the Osborne Brothers)[13]

Nominated for Best Bluegrass Album at the 60th Annual GRAMMY® Awards (for solo album Original).[14][13]

International Bluegrass Music Award (IBMA) for Recorded Event of the Year (2017, for "I've Gotta Get a Message to You")


  1. ^ a b "Bobby Osborne". Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  2. ^ a b c "Bobby Osborne". Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  3. ^ "At 85, Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne Looks Back on Appalachian Upbringing & His Legacy". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  4. ^ "Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down". NPR. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  5. ^ "Singing Like He Feels: A Conversation with Bobby Osborne". The Bluegrass Situation. 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  6. ^ "Osborne Brothers - A high lead, a long run - Page 2 of 5". No Depression. 2000-03-01. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  7. ^ "Original - Bobby Osborne | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  8. ^ "At 85, Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne Looks Back on Appalachian Upbringing & His Legacy". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  9. ^ "Watch Alison Krauss Sing Pleading 'Windy City' on 'Jimmy Kimmel'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  10. ^ "Alison Krauss Soars to No. 1 on Billboard's Country and Bluegrass Charts With "Windy City"". Nash Country Daily. 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  11. ^ Sanning, Cory. "'I was born to do it': Bobby Osborne reflects on legendary career, what keeps him coming back". Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  12. ^ "Inductees". Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  13. ^ a b "Osborne to perform Sunday". The Independent Online. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  14. ^ "Bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne celebrates first solo Grammy nomination". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2018-01-30.

External links[edit]