Sunday, 1 September 2013
Conway Twitty born 1 September 1933
Conway Twitty (September 1, 1933 – June 5, 1993), born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, was an American country music artist. He also had success in early rock and roll, R&B and pop music. He held the record for the most number one singles of any act, with 40 No. 1 Billboard country hits, until George Strait broke the record in 2006. From 1971 to 1976, Twitty received a string of Country Music Association awards for duets with Loretta Lynn. Although never a member of the Grand Ole Opry, he was inducted into both the Country Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.
Conway Twitty was born Harold Jenkins on September 1, 1933 in Friars Point in Coahoma County in northwestern Mississippi. He was named by his great uncle, after his favorite silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd. The Jenkins family moved to Helena, Arkansas when Harold was ten years old. In Helena Harold formed his first singing group, the Phillips County Ramblers.
Two years later, Harold had his own local radio show every Saturday morning. He also played baseball, his second passion. He received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school (Smiths Station High School), but he was drafted into the US Army. He served in the Far East and organized a group called The Cimmerons to entertain fellow GIs.Wayne Hause, a neighbor, suggested that Harold could make it in the music industry. Soon after hearing Elvis Presley's song "Mystery Train", Harold began writing rock and roll material.
He went to the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and worked with Sam Phillips, the owner and founder, to get the "right" sound.
Accounts of how Harold Jenkins acquired his stage name of Conway Twitty vary. Allegedly, in 1957, Jenkins decided that his real name wasn't marketable and sought a better show business name. In The Billboard Book of Number One Hits Fred Bronson states that the singer was looking at a road map when he spotted Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas, and chose the name Conway Twitty.
Another account says that Jenkins met a Richmond, Virginia, man named W. Conway Twitty Jr. through Jenkins' manager in a New York City restaurant. The manager served in the US Army with the real Conway Twitty. Later, the manager suggested to Jenkins that he take the name as his stage name because it had a ring to it. In the mid-1960s, W. Conway Twitty subsequently recorded the song "What's in a Name but Trouble", lamenting the loss of his name to Harold Jenkins.
Using his new stage name, Conway Twitty's fortunes improved in 1958, while he was with MGM Records. An Ohio radio station did not play "I'll Try", an MGM single that went nowhere in terms of sales, radio play, and jukebox play; instead playing the B-side, "It's Only Make Believe", a song written between sets by Twitty and drummer Jack Nance when they were in Hamilton, Ontario, playing at the Flamingo Lounge. The record took nearly one year to reach and stay at the top spot on the Billboard pop music charts in the US, as well as No. 1 in 21 other countries. It became the first of nine top 40 hits for Twitty. That same year, country singer Tabby West of ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee heard Twitty and he was booked to appear on the show.
For a brief period, some believed Twitty was Elvis Presley recording under a different name. This was largely the case with "It's Only Make Believe". Twitty would go on to enjoy rock and roll success with songs including "Danny Boy" (Pop No. 10) and "Lonely Blue Boy" (Pop No. 6). "Lonely Blue Boy", originally titled "Danny", was recorded by Presley for the film King Creole but was not used in the soundtrack.
Twitty always wanted to record country music and, beginning in 1965, he did just that. His first few country albums were met with
some country DJ's refusing to play them because he was known as a rock 'n' roll singer. However, he finally broke free with his first top five country hit, "The Image of Me", in July 1968, ensued by his first number one country song, "Next in Line", in November 1968. Few of his singles beginning in 1968 ranked below the top five.
In 1970, Twitty recorded and released his biggest hit ever, "Hello Darlin'" (which spent four weeks at the top of the country chart). In 1971 he released his first hit duet with Loretta Lynn, "After the Fire Is Gone". It was a success, and many more followed. Together, Conway and Loretta (as they were known in their act), won four
consecutive Country Music Association awards for vocal duo (1972–75) and a host of other duo and duet awards from other organizations throughout the 1970s.
In 1973, Twitty released "You've Never Been This Far Before", which was not only No. 1 in country for three weeks that September but also reached No. 22 on the pop charts. Some disc jockeys refused to play the song because of its suggestive lyrics.
In 1978, Twitty issued the single "The Grandest Lady of Them All" honoring the Grand Ole Opry, but for the first time since 1967, a single of his failed to reach top ten status as some radio stations refused to play a song honoring the property of a competitor (broadcast by WSM-AM). Nevertheless, the single reached the top 20 but it peaked well below expectations, and this set in motion the changes that were to take place in his career, including a new hairstyle, changing from the slicked-back pompadour style to the curlier style he would keep the rest of his life.
In 1985, going by all weekly music trade charts, the song "Don't Call Him a Cowboy" became the 50th single of his career to achieve a No. 1 ranking. He would have five more through 1990, giving him a total of 55 No. 1 hits.
Throughout much of Twitty's country music career his recording home was Decca Records, later renamed MCA. He signed with the label in late 1965 but left in 1981 when it appeared MCA was marketing and promoting newer acts, plus management at the label had changed and other factors brought on the decision. He joined Elektra/Asylum in 1982. That label merged with its parent company, Warner Bros. Records in 1983. He stayed on with Warner Bros. Records through early 1987 but then went back to MCA to finish out his career.
In June 1993, Twitty became ill while performing in Branson, Missouri, and was in pain while he was on his tour bus. He died in Springfield, Missouri, at Cox South Hospital, from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, aged 59, two months before the release of what would be his final studio album, Final Touches. He was inducted posthumously into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. (Info mainly edited from Wikipedia)