The Orange Blossom Special was a deluxe passenger train which inspired the tune by the same name. The song was written and copyrighted by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938 and the first recording took place in 1939 by Ervin and Gordon Rouse.
There has been a bit of controversy as to the original composer of the instrumental. Robert Russell (Chubby) Wise also laid claim to the song telling the story that he and Rouse had toured the train. After being so impressed, Rouse stated that they should “write a song about it”. Rouse never contested Wise’s claim to the song but others who knew both men have stated that it did originate from Rouse. Wise did have a part in popularizing the song when he played it regularly on the Grand Ole Opry.
The Orange Blossom Special, originally an instrumental gained lyrics at a later date. The lyrics were written by the Rouse Brothers and can be heard on various recordings. Notable recordings of the song include Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels and even the English rock band, Electric Light Orchestra.
Quickly becoming a festival favorite, the Orange Blossom Special was also a factor in fiddlers becoming part of a band. It allowed others to see the level of expertise and talent a fiddler maintained and if their abilities would draw the attention of fans. It is still a highly requested and entertaining song at festivals. Talented fiddlers have added flare and their own personal style to what was already a classic song.