Rocky Top

Rocky Top

September 30, 2019

In this article we will answer every question you may have about Rocky Top Tennessee.  The Song Rocky Top,  The Rocky Top Lyrics, the History of the Song and the Town of Rocky, Top Tn.


Rocky Top is the #1 Fight Song in College Sports

A great country bluegrass song people either love or hate. It has been associated with The University of Tennessee Vols athletics since 1972. It was first played at the Tennessee –Alabama football game on October 21, 1972.  To this day Rocky Top rings throughout Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena very often and very loud during football and basketball season.

Home fans like us, love it. Vols fans clap and stomp, while visitors cringe and fret. The official fight song for the Tennessee Vols is “Down The  Field”, but in spite of not being official, “Rocky Top” was designated as the #1 fight song in college football by USA Today in 2015.

The History of Rocky Top the Song

“Rocky Top” was made famous and first recorded by the Osborne Brothers in 1967 and reached # 33 on the country charts. Lynn Anderson’s version made it to # 17 on the charts when she recorded it in 1970. Various country and pop artist have had success with the classic “Rocky Top” including Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, John Denver, Phish, and  others.


“Rocky Top” was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a husband and wife country and pop songwriting team. The song was written at the Gatlinburg Inn, Gatlinburg, Tennessee while they were staying there in 1967.

The Bryant’s met and married in 1945.  They wrote over 6,000 songs, of which over 1500 were recorded by many famous artist. Little Jimmy Dickens recorded “Country Boy in 1948 which went to # 7 on the country charts.

They had moderate success in the songwriting industry as well as releasing some of their own recordings. This couple became nationally known in 1957 when they wrote a number of hits for the Everly Brothers: “Bye Bye, Love” “Wake up Little Susie” “All I Have to Do is Dream”.

Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Tony Bennett, Jim Reeves, Charlie Pride, Dean Martin, Sonny James and Ray Charles are just some of the great singers who recorded The Bryant’s songs. In 1972 they were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986 and into both the Country .Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1991. Boudleaux died in 1987 and Felice in 1991. They are buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.




Wish that I was on ol' Rocky Top
Down in the Tennessee hills
Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top
Ain't no telephone bills
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top
Half bear, other half cat
Wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop
I still dream about that
Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol' Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Once two strangers climbed ol' Rocky Top
Lookin' for a moonshine still
Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top
Reckon they never will
Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top
Dirt's too rocky by far
That's why all the folks on Rocky Top
Get their corn from a jar
Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol' Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee
I've had years of cramped-up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen
All I know is it's a pity life
Can't be simple again
Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol' Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee


Bobby and Sonny (The Osborne Brothers) recorded “Rocky Top” in November 1967 and it was released on December 25, 1967. It became an immediate hit and sold over 85,000 copies in only 2 weeks.  The Osborne Brothers version of “Rocky Top” reached #33 on the Country Music Charts. The Osborne’s continued to sing this song throughout their careers and it was always a crowd favorite.

Bobby was born December 7, 1931 and Sonny October 29, 1937 in Roark, Kentucky.  Bobby served in the United States Marine Corps. Sonny worked for Bill Monroe,” Father of Bluegrass Music”.   The Osborne Brothers were tops in Bluegrass Music and were inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry on August 8, 1964.  In 1994 the highest honor in Bluegrass Music was awarded to the Osborne Brothers (International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.)

Sonny Osborne retired in 2005 and Bobby was still performing with his family in 2018.


Where is Rocky Top, Tennessee Located?

Although the Bryant’s never indicated a specific location of “Rocky Top” it is believed to be a barren summit along the Appalachian Trail near the Tennessee-North Carolina border in The Great Smoky Mountains. “Rocky Top” appears on maps of the western Smokies as early as 1934 and is located close to Gatlinburg.

The town of Coal Creek was founded in the early nineteenth century and was named after a stream that runs through the town. It was a coal mining town and the site of disputes and unrest due to labor issues with convict miners.

After the Tennessee Valley Authority completed Norris Dam and created Norris Lake the town renamed their town Lake City.

Lake City remained until a business group proposed to take advantage of the popular name and rename the town “Rocky Top”. The renaming was opposed by the House of Bryant, owners of the copyright to the song and various trademarks. On June 26, 2014 the city officially change their town name  from Lake City to “Rocky Top”, after a judge denied an attempt by The House of Bryant to prevent the vote.

“Rocky Top” Tennessee is located on Interstate 75. It is in Anderson and Campbell counties, 24 miles south to Knoxville, Tennessee and 145 miles north to Lexington, Kentucky.  “Rocky Top” has had a steady decline in population. A high of 2335 in 1980 to an estimated 1767 in 2018.

Passing by “Rocky Top” for non Vol football fans is not a pleasant experience.  Kentucky is a boarding state and you can't drive to your Florida vacation without passing by Rocky Top.  "It is the worst part of the drive says many Kentucky fans".  Due to the bitter rivalry with the University of Kentucky and the Tennessee Vols.  Both schools know when they meet on the football field, the contest will be hard fought and ugly, and Kentucky fans will have to listen to that dreaded song “Rocky Top” over and over.




Love it or hate it, and you probably love Rocky Top if you have found

Rocky Top has created JOY AND JUBILATION for many Tennessee fans since the day we were born.  Not just Kentucky but Rocky Top has sent a fear through the hearts of SEC Fans for the past 55 years, and Vol fans like me, plan on enjoying Rocky Top for 55 more.


1998 Tennessee Vs. Florida
















Spin to win Spinner icon