On June 26, the town of Lake City in East Tennessee officially changed their name to Rocky Top. They celebrated their first July 4 with the new name last week, after a federal court denied an injunction from The House Of Bryant, publishers of the hugely popular song, to prevent Lake City from doing so. The change also required the consent of the Tennessee legislature, who granted approval just after the judge’s ruling.
The rebranding is to coincide with the development of a Rocky Top theme park which municipal leaders hope will allow the town to take advantage of state and regional tourism dollars. Rocky Top, the song, has been a hit in both bluegrass and country music, and has since been embraced as a fight song by the University of Tennessee sports teams.
But the former coal town of roughly 1800 citizens isn’t out of the woods yet. While the House of Bryant’s request for an injunction forbidding the name change was denied, there is still a suit pending alleging the dilution of their brand. Both the town and the theme park developers are named in this suit, which could be in the courts for some time.
Regardless of how all that may turn out, here’s a look at how things got started with The Osborne Brothers 47 years ago.