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‘His legacy is remarkable’ Family and friends remember longtime member of the Osborne Brothers

Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 8:38 PM EDT
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HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WYMT) - Sonny Osborne, one half of the Osborne Brothers, died on Sunday.

Osborne was born in Leslie County and began pursuing music professionally at the age of 14.

”He wrote a lot of the rules on the banjo, how the banjo’s played. He took what the masters had done, primarily the master Earl Scruggs, and went forward with that to his own style,” said Dean Osborne, the Osborne brothers’ second cousin.

The Osborne Brothers premiered in Knoxville, TN in 1953 and became the first bluegrass group to appear on a college campus with their 1960 performance at Antioch College.

The group was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

Osborne retired in the early 2000s, but he remained active in the bluegrass world through his mentorship of younger musicians.

He co-founded the yearly Osborne Brothers Festival in Hyden, which continues to this day.

He also entertained Bluegrass Today audiences with a weekly question-and-answer column, Ask Sonny Anything.

The Osborne brothers passions extended beyond music. They also helped fund the Thousandsticks Volunteer Fire Department in Leslie County, KY.

“Two guys that were raised here, born here, become famous, and be willing to give back to the community that they were born in, that meant a whole lot,” said John Newell, friend of the Osborne Brothers.

Osborne suffered a stroke in August but still completed the weekly column.

“Professionally, personally, in a community sense, his legacy is remarkable,” Dean Osborne said.

He died at his home on Sunday afternoon in Hendersonville, TN. He was 83 years old.

“Very, very good character. Good character and a good friend,” said Newell. “He will greatly be missed.”

Funeral arrangements have not been released at this time.

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