Bobby and Sonny Osborne — better known as The Osborne Brothers — have forged a musical legacy that has made them superstars across both the bluegrass and country genres. Their well-loved 1967 anthem "Rocky Top" brought the pair worldwide fame and cemented their place in musical history. A new documentary by independent filmmaker Russ Farmer documents the storied careers of the Osbornes, who grew up in Hyden, Ky., and went on to become the first bluegrass band to perform in the White House. A Kentucky Treasure: The Osborne Brothers premiered last Tuesday on KET. Watch your local listings for rebroadcast dates.
Featuring in-depth interviews with both Bobby Osborne, 82, and Sonny Osborne, 76, as well as extensive archival footage of the duo's many performances, the documentary offers a chronological portrait of the Osborne's enviable career, for which they were made members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1964 and inducted into the IBMA Hall of Honor in 1994.
"Their music has influenced all other genres of music," said Farmer, who calls himself a lifelong fan of The Osborne Brothers. "They established the now-famous three-part harmony featuring the high lead vocal. No group had ever done that before them. It changed the way bluegrass is sung."
Working on the documentary cemented The Osborne Brothers' status as music legends in Farmer's mind, he said. "I came away from this experience with a newfound respect for the steadfast dedication these two brothers have for bluegrass music. To spend sixty years together on the road has taken some tolls on their personal relationship, but each one continues to compliment the other for the pair's musical ability," Farmer said. "Truth be told, it was an equal effort and equal talent on both parts for them to stay as successful as they did over so long a stretch of time."
Sonny Osborne retired in 2005, but Bobby Osborne continues to perform with Rocky Top X-Press, which includes two of his sons.
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