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Legendary singer/songwriter and Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Russell died on July 3 after battling diabetes his whole life. The 61-year-old died peacefully at a Nashville hospital.

Russell first gained fame in the 1960s when Buck Owens recorded his song "Act Naturally," which became a #1 hit for Owens. Russell himself was best known for his songs "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue-Ribbon Beer," "Catfish John," and "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor."

Other country music legends that have recorded his songs include George Strait, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Patti Page, Bobby Vinton and Burl Ives.

Garth Brookes, who performed with Russell during his last public appearance at the Opry House this past March, spoke about the prolific singer/songwriter: "Because of Johnny's modesty, hardly any of us realizes his unbelievable talent and the contribution he made to music. Even in his last days, when everyone was stopping by to try and cheer him up, it was he who was making everyone else laugh. He was a truly unselfish, sweet man."

The funeral services will be held at the Grand Ole Opry House at 10 am on July 6. The Russell family requests that instead of sending flowers that donations be made to:

Johnny Russell Scholarship Fund c/o John Russell, Jr.
216 Centerview Dr., Suite 317
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027

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