"Little Green Apples" was written by Bobby Russell, who also wrote "Honey." According to Wikipedia, Russell’s intent was to experiment with true-to-life story songs, which he felt were the next big thing in music. Roger Miller (for whom the song was written), Patti Page, and O. C. Smith all recorded the song in 1968. All three reached the Hot 100 and charted on one of the other surveys: Miller’s reached #39 on the Hot 100, #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #6 on the Country chart; Ms. Page reached #96 on the Hot 100 (her last single to reach that chart) and #12 on the Adult Contemporary chart; and Smith reached #2 on the Hot 100 (behind "Hey Jude" by The Beatles), #2 on the R&B chart, and #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, by far the best showing of the three. Russell received two Grammys in 1969, one for Song of the Year and the other for Best Country Song.
Smith’s recording was certified Gold and finished the year at #12. It’s a beautiful song, more pop than rock or soul. A disk jockey in Detroit played the song on his show and was inundated with requests, so many that he called Columbia Records and convinced them to release it as a single. And the rest, as they say, is history.