GATLINBURG, Tenn. — There is one surefire way to tell if someone is from East Tennessee — see if they sing along to Rocky Top.
The song is a prominent part of the region's history, with stadiums filled with Vols fans breaking out into song whenever they hear it. For students at the University of Tennessee, it is a powerful way to join together in the Knoxville community.
On August 28, 1967, songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant checked into room 388 of the Gatlinburg Inn. The couple, known for such hits as Wake up little Susie, Bye Bye Love, and Love Hurts, were frequent guests of the inn and friends of its owners.
They were working on an album for Archie Campbell at the time and thought much of the music was a little depressing. So, they decided to up the tempo, writing most of Rocky Top in around 10 minutes.
"You know, Rocky Top is an iconic song," said David Cross with the Gatlinburg Inn. "As I've said, how many songs do you know where they were written and when? Very few. This has got the history."
On Thursday, officials unveiled a new historic music marker at the inn. It was unveiled at the opening ceremony for the first Gatlinburg Songwriters Festival.
In 2014, Cross discussed the history of the song and said at some point there would be a historical marker by the inn to show the birthplace of the song that captured the hearts of so many East Tennesseans.