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Johnny Russell

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John Bright “Johnny” Russell (January 23, 1940 – July 3, 2001) 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.

Born in Moorhead, 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.

He is also known for being the first one to record He Stopped Loving Her Today, in some surveys named as the greatest country song of all time and the biggest hit for George Jones in 1980, but his label refused to release it. Years later, George Strait topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with Russell’s song Let’s Fall to Pieces Together. In 1987, Russell hosted his first annual concert in Moorhead, MS at the MS Delta Community College Coliseum. These went on for 13 years, his final on April 29, 2000.

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