"Rocky Top" is an American country and bluegrass song written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967 and first recorded by the Osborne Brothers later that same year. The song, which is a city dweller's lamentation over the loss of a simpler and freer existence in the hills of Tennessee, is one of Tennessee's ten official state songs and has been recorded by dozens of artists from multiple musical genres worldwide since its publication. In U.S. college athletics, "Rocky Top" is associated with the Tennessee Volunteers of the University of Tennessee (UT), whose Pride of the Southland Band has played a marching band version of the song at the school's sporting events since the early 1970s.
The Osborne Brothers' 1967 bluegrass version of the song reached No. 33 on the U.S. Country charts, and Lynn Anderson's 1970 version peaked at No. 17 on the U.S. Country charts. In 2005, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ranked "Rocky Top" number seven on its list of 100 Songs of the South.
"Rocky Top" was written by married songwriting duo Boudleaux Bryant (1920–1987) and Felice Bryant (1925–2003) in 1967. At the time, the Bryants were working at The Gatlinburg Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on a collection of slow-tempo songs for a project for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins. Writing the fast-paced "Rocky Top," which took about 10 minutes to write, served as a temporary diversion for them.
While the song became a staple of the Osborne Brothers concerts in the late 1960s, the song did not achieve mass popularity until the early 1970s, when Lynn Anderson's version reached number seventeen on the Billboard Country Top 100. In 1972, UT's Pride of the Southland Band first played the song as part of one of its drills, the idea and arrangement being primarily the work of band arranger Barry MacDonald. The song was deemed popular enough to be played at a halftime country music show by guest saxophone soloist Boots Randolph at a game in Knoxville against Alabama on October 21, 1972, gaining fans' attention.