The Osborne BrothersMarch 06, 2012
Bobby Van Osborne (Mandolin, Vocals)Date of Birth: December 7, 1931 Place of Birth: Hyden (Leslie County), KentuckySonny Osborne (Banjo, Vocals)Date of Birth: October 29, 1937 Place of Birth: Hyden (Leslie County), KentuckyThe Osborne Brothers family moved from their native Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio in 1941 where their father, Robert, was employed for 33 years by National Cash Register Company. They began performing separately, Bobby with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers in 1949 and Sonny with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys in 1952. Bobby performed with Jimmy Martin for a short time in 1951 on station WCYB in Bristol, Virginia, before being drafted to the Korean War. Following Bobby's return, the brothers joined forces, performing on WROL Knoxville beginning on November 6, 1953; on WJR Detroit's "Lazy Ranch Barn Dance" with Martin from August 5, 1954 to August 6, 1955; in Wheeling, West Virginia on WWVA from September, 1955 through January, 1956 as part of Charlie Bailey's show (although remaining at WWVA until 1963); and recording for the MGM label in 1956 with Red Allen ("Ruby Are You Mad?"). On March 5, 1960, the Osborne Brothers played at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio — the first time a bluegrass band ever played before a college audience. The Osbornes joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry on July 31, 1964. The Osbornes often used a vocal trio of Bobby's high lead with two voices below, which gave the music a fuller sound than had been heard before in bluegrass and country music. At the same time, Sonny was pioneering a radical "single-string" approach to banjo playing. On December 25, 1967, their song "Rocky Top" was released as the B-side of a single which sold 85,000 copies in its first ten days of release. "Rocky Top" went on to become the second most programmed/requested song in bluegrass history (behing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"), the most recorded song in bluegrass history, the Official State Song of Tennessee, and the Official Fight Song of the University of Tennessee, and continues to remain on the Billboard Top 30 chart for record sales. On March 17, 1973, the Osborne Brothers became the first bluegrass band to perform at the White House for then-President Richard Nixon and his family, Henry Kissinger, and many members of Congress. On March 18, 1992, the Osborne Brothers' "Kentucky" was named an Official Kentucky State Song. The brothers were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Honor in September, 1994. A section of US421 near Hyden was named "Osborne Brothers Way" in 2000.