Ask Sonny Anything… with Sonny Osborne

Today is a proud day for us at Bluegrass Today, as we debut a new column from one of the most talented artists and enduring personalities our music has ever produced. He will make you think, and certainly make you laugh, and from time to time, he may irritate or annoy you – but we promise it will always be in good fun.

Ask Sonny Anything will be 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.

If you can pique his curiosity, he will delve into his memory banks to share some of that bluegrass history, and if you pose a smart aleck question, you’ll likely get a wisenheimer answer in return.

So let’s get started with episode #1 of Ask Sonny Anything.

Sonny, would you mind sharing one of your favorite Opry memories with us?

– Alan K.

Two, to be exact. First time at the Opry, I was 14 years old and scared, and then I walked on the Ryman stage and I immediately knew what FRIGHT really is. I was standing beside Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, and Charlie Cline…a Blue Grass Boy…and Bill says we are going to play Rawhide. 

Second, Bob Eubanks and I were standing backstage the night President Nixon visited the Opry. I had met Nixon the year before at the White House so I didn’t want to go out on the stage. When The President came off stage he came right by us and he recognized me and walked right up and said “Osborne, from Kentucky,” and proceeded to shake hands and spoke a few things. After he left I remembered I was carrying a 38 revolver in a shoulder holster. I showed it to Eubanks and he called me every name profanity owns. We would probably still be in jail. 


Hey Sonny, how do I get Roland White to stop requesting his own songs on my radio show each week?

-Terry Herd

Deny knowledge of anyone named Roland, and tell him your name is actually Ralph Emery, and you only play Hillbilly music and “that Roland name ain’t no part of nothin’….”


What is the most memorable thing Bill Monroe ever said to you?

– Kip V.

“I loaned you that hat, now you go find it.” Paintsville, Kentucky. I left the hat he loaned me in a restaurant. Luckily I found it the next day – July 1952.  I loved that old man, and he knew it.

DR O   


Dear Sonny, My wife and I have 5 lovely children and she’s insisting I get a vasectomy. Will that affect my banjo playing?

– Nervous in Nebraska

Yes…you will have problems executing the backward roll! But you’re not alone. Most banjo players don’t know whether they’re coming or going anyhow.


Hey Sonny, I wrote a hit song for a hit artist and the record label never paid me my royalties. What should I do?

– A Frustrated Songwriter 

Find the name of the publisher. Often the record company is not at fault. Every song has a publisher, the record company pays the publisher and the publisher takes his half and is supposed to then pay the writer. The record company is not at fault,…every time. You should have a contract with the publisher. That’s who you should contact. Ask for a record of sales, and the amount due the writer. Then mention The Better Business Bureau!     


See you next week!

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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.