Del Bryant, son of the duo who penned “Rocky Top,” visited with student groups on campus and served as grand marshal for the 2014 “Tennessee Traditions” Homecoming parade.
On Friday, Bryant regaled the History of Rock class with stories of his parents, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, who were prolific songwriters for artists like the Everly Brothers, (“Bye Bye Love,” “All I Have to Do is Dream,” and “Wake Up Little Susie”) Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Tony Bennett, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, and many more.
Bryant recently retired as president of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a performing rights organization that collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties. He spoke to the class about the competition between BMI and ASCAP, which was the leading royalty/licensing agency in the 1930s and ’40s. He commented on how BMI became hugely successful by picking up artists in genres that ASCAP didn’t want—namely rock and roll.
The Culinary Institute prepared lunch for Bryant and Retail and Consumer Sciences students who are part of the Rocky Top Institute—a partnership with the House of Bryant (the organization started by Bryant and his brother, Dane, which holds federal trademark registrations for Rocky Top) wherein students develop and markets products under the Rocky Top brand.
During his three-day visit, Bryant also met with students from the College of Law’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society, WUTK campus radio, Student Alumni Associates, the College of Communication and Information, and the Pride of the Southland Band.