Bobby Osborne and Ronnie Reno collaborate on I Can’t Stop Loving You

Creative people in our musical sphere have found different ways to cope and endure during this year’s forced shutdowns, when live performances have been all but prohibited and, for many in our industry, the ability to earn an income has been proscribed. We’ve seen some take it in stride, using the unexpected “free” time to dive deeper into the study of their craft, while others take on challenges they hadn’t anticipated at the start of 2020.

For Bobby Osborne, among the last living icons of bluegrass music, the COVID downtime was used to do something he had always wanted to do. Since he first heard I Can’t Stop Loving You by Don Gibson in 1958, he had wanted to record a version of the song himself. The original was an instant hit for Gibson, and became an even bigger one when Ray Charles recorded it in 1962. Throughout the ’60s nearly every artist in the upper echelon had their version as well, with dozens of covers over the years, right up to Conway Twitty hitting #1 with it again in 1972.

Well finally, during the shutdown, the opportunity came Bobby’s way. Hugh Moore with OMS Records has been putting together remotely recorded video and audio tracks from various locations to make new music and music videos while artists are unable to perform live. We had featured one back in April, his collaborative cut of Never Ending Song of Love, featuring Osborne along with Billy Troy, Ray Legere, and several others.

Moore pulled Bobby in recently to remake I Can’t Stop Loving You, along with Ronnie Reno and Glen Duncan, and the result is a classic piece of bluegrass/country history. Hugh is on banjo, with Allyn Love on steel and Bobby Osborne Jr. on bass.

It was a bluegrass reunion of sorts, as both Ronnie and Glen had been members of The Osborne Brothers back in the day, with Reno providing the third voice in the epic trio with Sonny and Bobby during his tenure.

Osborne tells us that this one had been on his mind for years.

“I always loved that song. I knew Don pretty good, and I admired the songs that he wrote. I think the song means a lot to so many people, one of the greatest things Don Gibson ever wrote. He was a good guy to go along with it… just a country boy, like all the rest of us.

I always wanted to sing it, so when Hugh Moore asked me to think of a song to record, I said let’s do this one. I’ve always sung ballads, and this is one of those songs that meant so much to me.

Hugh told me that the video has 197,000 views on Facebook and YouTube. I’m really happy to see that kind of reaction to it. And that suits me… it don’t have to ever end for me!

I’ve never thought of myself as a strictly bluegrass singer. I started out trying to sound like Ernest Tubb, but that fell out when my voice changed. I’ve always loved country songs, even before I first heard bluegrass. So I’ve kept on singing bluegrass and country both. I’m happy to be in two categories.”

Great stuff!

Bobby also mentioned that he is beyond happy to see live music come back again after the shutdowns.

“I’m ready to go whenever they say we can go out again. I had a good year booked until we had to shut it down, but the virus took care of that.

I did go down and do our Osborne Brothers Homecoming. We all wanted to keep the string of the 27th festival going. They held it at an old high school in Hyden, but there was no one there but the film crew.”

The single for I Can’t Stop Loving You is available now from all of the popular streaming and download sites.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.