It is a mournful week in country and bluegrass as we’ve lost two mandolin playing legends, two influential titans of the bluegrass discipline, and the two oldest members of the Grand Ole Opry in a span of five days.
It was October 21st, 1972, marking the third weekend of October, which meant fierce SEC rivals the Tennessee Volunteers would take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in their annual college football tilt—this year played at the Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. Halftime is when “Rocky Top” made its first ever appearance.
As we look back on 2021 and before we look forward to 2022, it’s important we take the time to pay tribute to these individuals who left a mark on the country and roots music world that will never fade. Here are the performers, players, songwriters, and others we lost in 2021.
Bert Baumbach, Bill Owens, Billy Robinson, BJ Thomas, Black Oak Arkansas, Byron Berline, Chad Sullins, Chris Wall, Chuck Morpurgo, Commander Cody, Courtney Granger, Dallas Moore, Dewayne Blackwell, Dixie Flyers, Dolly Parton, Don Everly, Don Maddox, Dustin Boyer, Dusty Hill, Ed Bruce, Gary Scruggs, Glenn Douglas Tubb, Gram Parsons, J.D. Crowe, James White, Jamie O'Hara, Jason "Rowdy" Cope, Jim Weatherly, JT Gray, Kenny Ballinger, Maddox Brothers and Rose, Margaret Everly, Mark Jensen, Michael Nesmith, Nanci Griffith, Neil Flanz, Osborne Brothers, Pinto Bennett, Randy Parton, Razzy Bailey, Richie Albright, Rickie Lee Reynolds, Rose Lee Maphis, Rusty Young, Sonny Osborne, Stonewall Jackson, Sue Thompson, The Broken Spoke, The Everly Brothers, The Station Inn, Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, ZZ Top
When it comes to the banjo in bluegrass or anywhere else, aside from maybe Earl Scruggs, nobody else has been heard and enjoyed more than Sonny Osborne of The Osborne Brothers. Both prolific and influential, the Osborne Brothers rendition of the iconic song “Rocky Top.”