NASHVILLE (AP) - Grand Ole Opry star Johnny Russell, whose song "Act Naturally" was recorded by Buck Owens and the Beatles, died Tuesday. He was 61. The singer, songwriter and comedian, who had battled leukemia, diabetes and other ailments, was surrounded by his family and friends when he died, said Baptist Hospital spokeswoman Jessica
Etz. Russell once said that it took him two years to get someone to record "Act Naturally," co-written with Voni Morrison. When Owens recorded a version in 1963, it went to No. 1 on the country charts. Two years later, it was recorded by the Beatles, with Ringo Starr singing the vocal. In 1989, Starr and Owens recorded a duet of the song that was nominated for Grammy and Country Music
Association awards. Russell's own recording career took off in the 1970s. His biggest hit was the working class anthem "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer," which went to No. 4 in 1973 and was nominated for a Grammy.
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