Ask Sonny Anything… were there any songs that got away from the Brothers?

Sonny, I LOVE this column so much. Thank you for sharing so many great stories! I can only imagine the incredible things you’ve seen and done, but I had to wonder about the many hours of boredom on the bus occasionally between gigs, especially after your comment last week. That gives a person time to think up a really good practical joke or two. Can you share one of your best?

Ronnie L.

Hey Ronnie, glad you could make it. Thank you for sharing your time with us. Our bus time was like solitude time. Everybody seemed to be in their own world and there wasn’t a lot of visiting amongst the troops. Sometimes in the afternoons, a card game would break out, but as far as practical jokes, we never went in for that much. No one seemed to like surprises.


Hey Sonny, I was wondering if there was ever a great song that got away from the Brothers? You know, one that became a hit for someone else after you passed on it?

Ben T.

Hey Ben, I’m glad you could make it.

The songs that got away from us were few and far between because we had certain writers that we depended on to keep us supplied with good material. And we also had Teddy Wilburn on the lookout for material. One song that I begged for, but Paul Craft wouldn’t give us the go-ahead to do was Keep Me From Blowin’ Away, because he had written that song for Jerry Lee Lewis, and he was determined to get Jerry to do it and he succeeded in doing that. Some time later, Paul told me that he wished he had let us record it instead of Jerry, because Bobby sung it so well, and Jerry waited until the last song on his session to do it and he was pretty much wiped out by then.

Another song that got away from us was She’s No Angel, but Wesley Rose, the publisher, had promised the song to Kitty Wells.

Pete Goble showed me a song at a festival in Michigan, and I immediately wanted it…it was called 1949. He promised me he wouldn’t show the song to anybody else and I promised him that we would record it. Then I heard that song by 2 different artists within a month after that, so obviously Pete had shown that song to every artist at that festival. We never recorded another Pete Goble song. Somewhere in there lies the phrase ‘honor among thieves’ which seems appropriate.

Fact is, as I remember Kitty Wells did record She’s No Angel and I honestly think we had a better record than she did. But we were just a lowly bluegrass act.



Last week you said …”Books pertaining to music are so full of lies and authors’ ideas or concept of what really happened, and what should have happened.”

Would this also apply to the book you are hoping to publish? I am just curious.

David R.

David, this is for you. You will notice that you have not read my book yet, and at this moment it is in very capable hands. If it ever sees the light of day, it will be after I have read every word in it, and it won’t be filled with hearsay on my part without telling you that. And not only will I have read every word in it, my wife, daughter, son, Lincoln, Aynsley, and a dozen more will have proof read that book…so we can assure you that it’s full of the truth and warnings of hearsay and the phrase ‘in my opinion.’

Years ago, we didn’t hear that Ralph Mayo had died. We were told directly, by Ralph and Carter Stanley, of his death. So 2 or 3 weeks later, in Kingsport, TN I think, Ralph Mayo showed up at one of our shows. So you see, this is a lie and not hearsay. And I beg you to see the difference.


Hey Sonny, absolutely loving the column! I’m wondering if you remember Garr Bowers and if you have and reflections you can share with us?

John G

Hey John.

I met Garr Bowers on one occasion, at the Andy Griffith theater in Mt Airy, NC. He came up to me and introduced himself and we talked for a couple of minutes. I reminded him that the way he played I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home on the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Monroe inspired me to work harder because I wanted to play it like he had. (I was 12 years old at the time that I had heard him.) I never saw him again, but the next time we played in Mt Airy his sister was there and said that Garr had wanted to come that night but he actually didn’t get out much at all.

And that’s all I know about Garr Bowers.

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.

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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.