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HAZARD, Ky. – Bobby Osborne, the mandolin-playing bluegrass music legend who, as one half of The Osborne Brothers, helped popularize the song “Rocky Top,” died Tuesday. He was 91.

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The Grand Ole Opry, where Osborne had been a member since 1964, confirmed his death, The Tennessean reported.

“Bobby Osborne was among the last of his generation of bluegrass pioneers,” Grand Old Opry executive producer Dan Rogers said in a statement. “What a profound loss for the Opry family and bluegrass music fans around the world. Mr. Osborne’s legacy will live forever on this stage we love and wherever his style is emulated. Thank you to Bobby Osborne for more than 70 years of music and memories.”

According to his website, The Osborne Brothers’ 1967 version of “Rocky Top” became the official state song of Tennessee in 1982. Bobby Osborne sang and played music with his brother, Sonny Osborne.

Osborne, along with his younger brother, formed The Osborne Brothers in 1953. They were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

Osborne, along with his younger brother, was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

In addition to “Rocky Top,” Bobby Osborne was featured on songs such as “Pain In My Heart,” “Big Spike Hammer” and “I’ll Be All Right Tomorrow,” The Tennessean reported.

“To say he was a legend falls short of the impact he had on all of us,” Paul Schiminger, interim executive director at the International Bluegrass Music Association, told The Associated Press. “An innovative musical pioneer, Bobby set and held the gold standard for bluegrass vocals.”

When asked about his longevity in 2021, Osborne told WYMT that, “I was born to do it, and I ain’t going to quit.”

“Rocky Top” was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who were Sonny Osborne’s friends and neighbors, The Tennessean reported. The song became so popular that the brothers opened and closed shows with “Rocky Top.”

The brothers performed together until Sonny Osborne retired in 2005, The Tennessean reported. Sonny Osborne died in 2021 at the age of 84, WATE-TV reported.

They had 13 hits on the Billboard country charts, according to label Compass Records. In 1971, the duo won a CMA Award for Vocal Group of the Year; two years later, they became the first bluegrass act to perform at the White House, according to The Tennessean.

Born in 1931, Bobby Osborne grew up in Hyden, Kentucky, before his family moved to Dayton, Ohio, WRDB-TV reported, citing the musician’s biography on the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame website. After some early success as a touring musician, Osbourne began playing the mandolin. His brother Sonny was a banjo player, and together they started touring with Bill Monroe.

Osborne taught at the Hazard Community and Technical College’s Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music in Leslie County, the AP reported.

“He was a pioneer in the Bluegrass music industry and a champion for Eastern Kentucky,” college President Jennifer Linden told the news organization.