Ask Sonny Anything… Kentucky Wildcats

Ask Sonny Anything is a recurring feature where our readers pose questions to the great Sonny Osborne, one half of the iconic Osborne Brothers who redefined bluegrass music in the 1960s, and noted banjo maven and collector of fine prewar instruments. Everyone is encouraged to pose queries of your own each week in the comments, about his history in the music, his wealth of banjo knowledge, or regarding any life advice you might be needing.

Sonny, of all of the storied trios, which were your personal favorites to sing?  Also, is it true most of your vocals in the early going were recorded entirely live?

– Chris B.

I loved Beneath Still Waters. Great lyrics, great melody. All of them were fun because of my brother, he was just so good, and it was an extreme pleasure to stand beside him and hear him “bring it” every day…. It was all recorded live. No coverups, no overdubs. The band too… no tracking just pure great players doing what they did best… better than anyone else… and they knew it… as did we!    


Sonny, good to see you here. First let me thank you for being kind to a young guitarist many years ago. I remember you giving me your card and telling me to get in touch if I ever made it to Nashville. My dad ran the sound at The Lake Norman Music Hall for years. My question is do you have any memories, good or bad, about the music hall and the owners, Ernest and Pauline Lawing?

– Jack Lawrence, journeyman guitarist

Hey Jack…. That was a hard place for us because it was such a hard place to do sound. I’m sure your Dad did as best he could but that was a tough to achieve good sound. Ernest and Pauline were always good to us, they always paid us. But as I remember, we had some pretty good crowds for them too. Am I thinking wrong, but didn’t Roy Martin do some shows there? I do remember something changed… maybe that was it… enlighten me Jack. On another note… didn’t you have a pretty good run playing guitar with Doc Watson? I’m sure I remember this right. Been a long time ago, but as I remember it you did some mighty good work there in what could have been a difficult position. Doc was a good player and good players are sometimes not so easy to work with.


Sonny, So just how big of a Kentucky Wildcat fan are you? Especially basketball? I always wondered if Bobby was a fan too?

– Glenn A.

Probably the best fan they have… My Dad and I used to hear them on WHAS in Louisville in 1947. I was 9 at the time. Adolph Rupp was coach…. oh what a day it was. My son Steve graduated from UK in the early ’80s… ’82 or ’83. UK got a lot of my money. Bobby? He’s a fan but I’m not sure he as strong as I, although he has sung Rocky Top and Kentucky at Rupp…..pretty big I’d say. I didn’t go why? I just didn’t want to!!


Sonny, Living in NKY, I was fortunate to hear Osborne Bros Shows at The Candlelight in its last years. Tell us about the owner and how the band got to know her and relationship. I’ve heard that there is some good history there. Thanks for the music.

– Tim T.

Dessie owned the place. No big story involved. She came to one of our shows and asked if we would play her club as a pickup date on the way to/or from another date. I told her yes we would do that, and that started a good relationship between us and the Candlelight. We did have some turn away crowds and that pleased her no end. It was a lot of fun for us too… kinda let your hair down time.


Sonny, how does it feel to be 1/2 the part of the successful country duo/band The Brothers Osborne? All joking aside, I just want to thank you for the hundreds of thousands of miles you logged playing incredible original material. You are an inspiration and I enjoy your music (The Osborne Brothers) on a daily basis.

– Danny C.

If I were either one of them, I wouldn’t want to be the other one. A couple million miles and yep, some pretty good material. I’m honored that you are a fan. Beyond words. One never tires of hearing that something you did was appreciated and so when I say “beyond words” I mean just that. Thank you.


If you have something you would like to ask Sonny, be sure to post it in the comments below, or send it to us directly.

Share this:

About the Author

Sonny Osborne

Surely among the most influential banjo players of all time, Sonny Osborne has dedicated his life to bluegrass music, and the five string banjo. For 50 years he toured with his brother, Bobby, as The Osborne Brothers and were one of the top acts in bluegrass and country music in the 1960s and '70s. He retired in 2005 but remains active in the banjo world with the manufacture and distribution of his Chief banjos.