Country singer Johnny Russell dead

Country singer, songwriter and comedian Johnny Russell died Tuesday. A legend at the Grand Ole Opry for years, Russell was 61. The Grammy-nominated artist suffered from leukemia and diabetes among other ailments, and was comforted by his family at the end. Russell wrote songs for such artists as George Strait, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Rondstadt, but his greatest success as a songwriter probably was Act Naturally, which was recorded by Buck Harris in 1963 and the Beatles in 1965. Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer in 1973, which Russell recorded himself, hit No. 4 on the pop charts and was nominated for a Grammy. Russell became the Grand Ole Opry’s traditional closing act shortly after signing up in 1985. John Jr., his son, Julie, his daughter, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, survive Russell.