Johnny Russell (singer)

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Johnny Russell
Birth nameJohn Bright Russell
Born(1940-01-23)January 23, 1940
Moorhead, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedJuly 3, 2001(2001-07-03) (aged 61)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Years active1965–2000

John Bright Russell (January 23, 1940 – July 3, 2001)[1] was an American country music singer, songwriter, and comedian best known for his song "Act Naturally", which was made famous by Buck Owens, who recorded it in 1963, and The Beatles in 1965. His songs have been recorded by Gene Watson, Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Jerry Garcia, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, and Linda Ronstadt.


Born in Moorhead, Mississippi, United States, he moved with his family at age 11 to Fresno, California.[1] He began writing songs and entering talent contests while still attending Fresno High School, from which he graduated in 1958.[1] He had his first song published that year, "In a Mansion Stands My Love," which was recorded by Jim Reeves as the A-side and B-side of his 1960 hit, "He'll Have to Go."[1]

Russell's recording of his song, "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer", was his only top 10 hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in October 1973.[1] The song was nominated later that year for a Grammy Award. Russell is also known for hits such as "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor", "Catfish John", and "Hello, I Love You".[1]

Years later, George Strait topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with Russell's song "Let's Fall to Pieces Together".[1]

In 1987, Russell hosted his first annual concert in Moorhead, at the Mississippi Delta Community College Coliseum. These went on for 13 years, his final on April 29, 2000.

By 2001, Russell's health had been in a state of decline (for years, he had used his obesity as a running joke on the Grand Ole Opry),[1] and in April 2001, both of his legs were amputated because of diabetes. Russell died July 3, 2001, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 61 from diabetes-related complications.[1]



Year Album US Country Label
1971 Mr. and Mrs. Untrue RCA Victor
1973 Catfish John / Chained 32
Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer 19
1974 She's in Love with a Rodeo Man
1975 Here Comes Johnny Russell 45
1979 Perspectives Mercury


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1971 "Open Up the Door to Your Heart" single only
"Mr. and Mrs. Untrue" 64 Mr. and Mrs. Untrue
1972 "What a Price" 57 Catfish John / Chained
"Mr. Fiddle Man" 59
"Rain Falling On Me" 36
"Catfish John" 12 3
1973 "Chained" 31 35
"Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer" 4 1 Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer
"The Baptism of Jesse Taylor" 14 21
1974 "She's in Love with a Rodeo Man" 39 She's in Love with a Rodeo Man
"She Burnt the Little Roadside Tavern Down" 38 42
1975 "That's How My Baby Builds a Fire" 23 32 Here Comes Johnny Russell
"Hello I Love You" 13 29
"Our Marriage Was a Failure" 45
1976 "I'm a Trucker" 57
"This Man and Woman Thing" 45 singles only
1977 "The Son of Hickery Holler's Tramp" 32 36
"I Wonder How She's Doing Now" flip
"Obscene Phone Call" 91
1978 "Leona" 64
"You'll Be Back (Every Night in My Dreams)" 24 Perspectives
"How Deep in Love Am I?" 29
1979 "I Might Be Awhile in New Orleans" 57
"Ain't No Way to Make a Bad Love Grow" 56 singles only
1980 "While the Choir Sang the Hymn (I Thought of Her)" 57
"We're Back in Love Again" 59
1981 "Song of the South" 57
"Here's to the Horses" 49
1982 "George"
1987 "Butterbeans" (w/ Little David Wilkins) 72
"It's Quittin' Time" (w/ Little David Wilkins)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Johnny Russell | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 10, 2021.


  • Roy, Don. (1998). "Johnny Russell." In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 462–463.

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