OK, let’s look at another very big Country Star (Harold Jenkins), that in my era (the fifties) was a Pop Star. He was so big that he accumulated 32 No. 1 hits.
(Conway Twitty (September 1, 1933 – June 5, 1993), born Harold Lloyd Jenkins)
Video from the Fifties: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVb9-ppBP5Y (It’s Ony Make Believe)
Conway Twitty was born Harold Jenkins on Sept. 1, 1933, in the small town of Friars Point, Miss. His father, a riverboat pilot, taught him his first guitar chords when Conway was just 4 years old. From a black church in the town, he heard the sounds of gospel, and every Saturday night the family gathered around the radio for the Grand Ole Opry.
His family moved to Helena, Ark., when he was 10, and there he put together his first band, “The Phillips County Ramblers”. Two years later, he had his own local radio show every Saturday morning. While in Arkansas, Twitty indulged his second passion — baseball. He received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school, but joined the Army instead.
After his discharge from the Army, Twitty again pursued a music career. After hearing Elvis Presley’s “Mystery Train,” he began writing original rock ‘n’ roll material. As a matter of course, he headed for the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., and worked with the likes of Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and many others.
He changed his name in 1957, taking the names from two towns in Arkansas. However, Twitty didn’t try rockabilly like some of his cohorts. Instead, he scored his first hit with a teen ballad, “It’s Only Make Believe,” on MGM in 1958, making him a teen idol of the day.
Eight years and three gold records later, he began his country career with MCA/Decca in 1965, and by the early ’70s, he had scored four straight No. 1 hits including “Hello Darlin’.” Many of them, featuring his signature growling vocal style, especially endeared him to female listeners.
In 1971, he released his first hit duet with Loretta Lynn, “After the Fire Is Gone,” followed by “Lead Me On” in 1971, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” in 1973 and “As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone” in 1974. Together, they won four consecutive CMA awards for vocal duo, but Twitty never won a solo CMA award. Yet, by the end of his tenure at MCA in 1981, he had accumulated 32 No. 1 hits. Another 15 had reached the Top 5.
In 1982, Twitty moved to Warner Bros. (then Elektra) and reached No. 1 with remakes of the Pointer Sisters’ “Slow Hand” and Bette Midler’s “The Rose.”
In 1987, he returned to MCA, where he co-produced his albums with his wife, Dee Henry. The hits, such as “Julia” and “That’s My Job” continued.
Twitty became ill while performing in Branson, Mo., and he died on June 5, 1993, from an abdominal aneurysm. Shortly before he died, he had recorded a new album, suitably called Final Touches. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.