Country Singer Johnny Russell Dies
- Country Singer Johnny Russell Dies
The Associated Press
Jul 3 2001 1:54PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Grand Ole Opry star Johnny Russell, whose song ``Act
Naturally'' was recorded by Buck Owens and the Beatles, died Tuesday. He was
The singer, songwriter and comedian, who had battled leukemia, diabetes and
other ailments, was surrounded by his family and friends when he died, said
Baptist Hospital spokeswoman Jessica Etz.
Russell once said that it took him two years to get someone to record ``Act
Naturally,'' co-written with Voni Morrison.
When Owens recorded a version in 1963, it went to No. 1 on the country
charts. Two years later, it was recorded by the Beatles, with Ringo Starr
singing the vocal. In 1989, Starr and Owens recorded a duet of the song that
was nominated for Grammy and Country Music Association awards.
``They (the Beatles) were so big, and it was such a big point in Buck's
career, that it has been very satisfying to have been a part of it,''
Russell said in a 1988 Associated Press interview.
``It was a once in a lifetime thing. I'm just a little ol' country
Russell's own recording career took off in the 1970s. His biggest hit was
the working class anthem ``Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer,''
which went to No. 4 in 1973 and was nominated for a Grammy.
Russell joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, and over the years
became its regular closing act. A jolly, 275-pound man, he would joke to
audiences in his opening line: ``Can everybody see me all right?''
Russell also wrote the No. 1 hit ``Let's Fall to Pieces Together,'' recorded
in 1984 by George Strait, and ``Making Plans,'' which was recorded by Dolly
Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on their ``Trio'' album in 1987.
Born in Moorhead, Miss., in 1940, Russell began recording as a teen-ager in
California. One of his early songs, ``In a Mansion Stands My Love,'' was
later recorded by Jim Reeves and became the flip side to Reeves' No. 1 hit
``He'll Have to Go.''
Russell is survived by his son, John Jr.; daughter, Julie Morris; four
grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.