This week, Tuesday Traditions takes a look at one of the most beloved, and hated, songs in college athletics: Good Ole’ Rocky Top (wooh)!
Prior to its debut in Neyland Stadium, the most popular song in East Tennessee was written on Aug. 28, 1967, by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant at the Gatlinburg Inn in Tennessee. The Bryant’s were there working on an album for Archie Campbell and conceived the song during one of their breaks.
The Osborne Brothers first recorded the song and released it as a single on Christmas Day, 1967. It eventually became Tennessee’s state song in 1982.
Long-time director of bands Dr. WJ Julian first brought Rocky Top to big orange country during a halftime show in 1972. Ever since, the song has become one the most beloved traditions in Knoxville.
Rocky Top quickly became the unofficial fight song of the university, but if you ask most people, they do not even know it is the unofficial fight song. In fact, Rocky Top has been named one of the most hated and most popular fight songs in the country despite not actually being Tennessee’s official fight song. “Down The Field” is the official fight song.
On June 23, 2015, NFL.com named Rocky Top as the No. 8 best fight song in college football. In an article published on Oct. 24, 2015, USA Today Sports named it the top fight song in college football. Despite being named one of the best or most popular songs in college football every year, Rocky Top is also dubbed one of the most overplayed songs in college athletics.
But in Knoxville, it couldn’t be played enough. In fact, WIVK plays Rocky Top non-stop for hours on numerous occasions during football season. They play just about every recording that has ever existed.
High school bands all over Tennessee use Rocky Top as their fight song.
Del Bryant, the son of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, had a 1972 Chevy Blazer restored by Counts Customs. The remake, of course, was Tennessee themed, featuring the music to Rocky Top.
The original score of Rocky Top was given to the University of Tennessee’s School of Music in a ceremony when the new building was opened. Even Tennessee alums Peyton Manning and Britton Colquitt felt the need to show their love of the song at a Denver Broncos practice.
Plus, just about every act that passes through Knoxville gives the song a go, including WWE superstar John Cena.
Rocky Top truly is the national anthem for Tennessee fans.
Despite the fact that the song has been recorded and performed by countless people at this point, it may not get any better than The Pride of The Southland’s performance during football Saturday’s in the fall.
Featured image by Kevan Elkins
Edited by Cody McClure
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman