Bobby Russell

Induction Year: 1994

Birth Name: Robert L. Russell

Birth Date: 04-19-1941

Place of Birth: Nashville, Tennessee

Death Date: 11-19-1992

Place of Death: Nicholasville, Kentucky

Bobby Russell was the Grammy-winning writer of crossover smashes "Little Green Apples," "Honey" and "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia." Russell's best-known songs were lyric-heavy, with lines that seem artfully torn from conversation. Two of those songs ruled the radio in 1968, the year Bobby Goldsboro had a five-week pop #1 and three-week country #1 with "Honey." The hit song inspired numerous cover versions, as did another Russell-penned 1968 hit, "Little Green Apples." Roger Miller took "Little Green Apples" to #6 on the Billboard country chart, then Patti Page had a #11 easy-listening hit with the song, and O. C. Smith reached #2 on pop and R&B charts with "Little Green Apples."

Born in Nashville and raised in the days when the Tennessee capital was taking steps towards becoming Music City, Russell's first successes came when pop performers Jan & Dean, Brian Hyland and Gary Lewis & the Playboys recorded his songs. Then came "Little Green Apples," which Roger Miller recorded as a relaxed, simple country song with enough multi-genre appeal to cross over into the pop and easy-listening charts. Patti Page's recording was similar to Miller's, while O. C. Smith offered a soulful, crooning take that sold more than a million copies. In 1969, "Little Green Apples" won Grammy Awards for best overall song and top country song.

Next, "Honey" became the signature hit for Goldsboro, topping every available Billboard chart with a song sung from the point of view of a man who laments the death of his spouse. "Honey" spawned numerous covers, with Dean Martin, Hank Snow and many others recording versions.

Russell had modest success as a solo recording artist, reaching the pop Top 40 with a whimsical look at domesticity called "1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero," and again with another glimpse of suburbia called "Saturday Morning Confusion." But his next indelible hit would come in 1972 when his actress wife, Vicki Lawrence, recorded "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia," a pulsing tale of Southern injustice. Lawrence sang the demo of the song in hopes of placing it with another artist, but Cher and others turned it down. Lawrence went on to record a studio-polished version, and it became another cross-format hit. In the 1990s, Reba McEntire's version reached the Top 20 of the country charts. Bobby Russell died in 1992 at age 51 of a heart attack.

"1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero"

Bobby Russell1968 #36 pop, #64 country
Ray Charles Singers1969 

"A Million Old Goodbyes"

(written with Buzz Cason, Stephen Gibb)

Freddy Weller1980 #66 country
Mel Tillis1981 #8 country

"Better Homes and Gardens"

Bobby Russell1969 #34 country


Bobby Russell1969 #66 country

"Do You Know Who I Am"

Elvis Presley1969 


CMA Song of the Year

Bob Shane1968 
Bobby Goldsboro1968 #1 country, #1 pop, #1 adult contemporary
Eddy Arnold1968 
Tammy Wynette1968 
Joe Tex1968 
Jack Greene1968 
Andy Williams1968 
Dean Martin1968 
Gary Puckett & the Union Gap1968 
The Dells1968 
O. C. Smith1969 #44 pop, #44 R&B
Hank Snow1969 
Four Tops1969 
Daniel O'Donnell1988 
Jim Nabors1994 
Roger Whittaker1994 

"Little Green Apples"

Grammy for Song of the Year

Roger Miller1968 #6 country, #6 adult contemporary #39 pop
Patti Page1968 #11 adult contemporary, #96 pop
O. C. Smith1968 #2 pop, #2 R&B, #4 adult contemporary
Johnny Mathis1968 
Tony Joe White1968 
Frank Sinatra1968 
Ray Price1968 
Andy Williams1969 
Bing Crosby1969 
Tom Jones1969 
Eddy Arnold1969 
Dean Martin1969 
The Temptations1969 
Tony Bennett1969 
Ben E. King1970 
B. J. Thomas1970 
Nancy Wilson2004 

"Mid American Manufacturing Tycoon"

Bobby Russell1973 #93 country


(written with Buzz Cason)

Jan & Dean1966 #21 pop

"Saturday Morning Confusion"

Bobby Russell1971 #24 country, #28 pop
Carol Burnett1972 


Roger Miller1970 #15 country

"Sure Gonna Miss Her"

Gary Lewis & the Playboys1966 #9 pop


(written with Buzz Cason)

Jan & Dean1962 #69 pop

"The Joker Went Wild"

Brian Hyland1966 #20 pop

"The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia"

Vicki Lawrence1973 #1 pop, #6 adult contemporary, #36 country
Lynn Anderson1973 
Tanya Tucker1973 
Reba McEntire1992 #12 country
Vic Chesnutt1995 

"The Sudden Stop"

Percy Sledge1968 #41 R&B, #63 pop

"Then She's a Lover"

Roy Clark1970 #31 country, #94 pop


Roger Miller1969 #15 country, #80 pop

Bobby Russell

Induction Year: 1994