April 19

Remembering Bobby Russell, Behind His “Little Green Apples”

Remembering Bobby Russell, Behind His "Little Green Apples" 1
Bobby Russell (Photo by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame)

The most notable songs that he penned were The Night the Lights Went Out in GeorgiaUsed to Be, and Little Green Apples. These hits have stormed and gone to the charts. Behind these ingenious masterpieces is the wickedly talented Bobby Russell.

Bobby Russell: An Award-winning Songwriter

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Bobby Russell was born on April 19, 1940. Popularly known as a songwriter, Russell’s songwriting abilities gave him a spotlight in the country music industry. Additionally, he produced a number of chart-topping hits in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. His first song to make an impact on the charts was a pop tune, “The Joker Went Wild,” recorded in 1966 by teen idol Brian Hyland.

In 1968, Russell wrote “Little Green Apples.” First recorded by Roger Miller, the song was a Top 10 Country hit. On the other hand, O.C. Smith‘s version became a huge crossover pop song.

Another notable and a tearjerker among his records was Honey, which was a number hit of Bobby Goldsboro on both country and pop charts.

In 1971, Russell joined United Artists, scoring the country-pop hit Saturday Morning Confusion. Two years later, he signed a contract with Columbia and eventually married singer/actress Vicki Lawrence. Interestingly, Lawrence sang Russell’s The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, which became a number 1 hit.

Russell continued writing songs throughout the ’80s, but by that time his glory days were behind him. After suffering a heart attack, he passed away on November 19, 1992, in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He was 52 years old. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.

Indeed, the music industry has lost one of its pillars, a pure talent, and a creator of true music.

“Little Green Apples”: A GRAMMY-winning Song

Best known covered by O.C. Smith, Little Green Apples is a song written by Bobby Russell. The song was originally written for Roger Miller who recorded later it in 1968.

Little Green Apples was covered by several artists including Patti Page and O.C. Smith. While Miller’s version reached Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Page’s version was her last Hot 100 entry. On the other hand, Smith’s version peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard 100 chart.

Moreover, the song won several awards, winning Russell two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Country Song in 1969.

Singing Little Green Apples, watch O.C. Smith as he performs his own version of the song.


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birthday, Bobby Russell, Little Green Apples

  • I play this song once every nite. We were just begging to intergrate our schools. I was playing on this Jr.league football team calked Ke-Tans.The Coach was white and I was one of his co-captains. Well we would ride (the co-captains) in his truck going over the game plans. He would always have this song on. The other captain and i would look at eachother ready to laugh and it grew on me. Well that co captain and i became best friends over 50 years until he passed away. Somemore to this story but i will stop here.
    It was a wonderful time in my life ane taught me and others so much about loving one another, no matter what the color of your skin was.

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