Johnny Russell

John Bright "Johnny" Russell (born January 23, 1940, Sunflower County, Mississippi; died July 3, 2001, Nashville, Tennessee) was an American country singer, songwriter, and comedian famous for his song "Act Naturally," which was made famous by Buck Owens, who recorded it in 1963, and The Beatles in 1965. His songs have been recorded by Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Jerry Garcia, Tamra Rosanes, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt.


Born in Mississippi, he moved with his family at age 11 to Fresno, California, where he began writing songs and entering talent contests while still in high school, graduating in 1958. He had his first song published that year, "In a Mansion Stands My Love," which was recorded by Jim Reeves as the "B" side of his 1960 hit "He'll Have to Go."

His recording of his song "Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer" was his only top 10 hit, peaking at No. 4 on the "Billboard magazine" Hot Country Singles chart in October 1973. The song was nominated later that year for a Grammy Award. Russell is also known for hits such as "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor," "Catfish John," and "Hello, I Love You."

Years later, George Strait topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with Russell's song "Let's Fall to Pieces Together."

By 2001, Russell's health was in a state of decline (for years, he had used his obesity as a running joke on the Grand Ole Opry), and in April 2001, both of his legs were amputated because of diabetes. Russell died at the age of 61 from diabetes-related complications.


*Roy, Don. (1998). "Johnny Russell." In "The Encyclopedia of Country Music." Paul Kingsbury, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 462-463.

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Biography]
* [ Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame]

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