Conway Twitty (September 1, 1933 - June 5, 1993) was a celebrated country superstar and songwriter with signature smooth, deep vocals and a flair for sensual, romantic ballads who began in the late 1950s as a popular rock & roll singer and teen idol. Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Mississippi, he started playing the guitar as a child and at age 10, relocated with his family to Helena, Arkansas where he formed his first band soon after and landed his own weekly radio show. He also excelled at baseball and received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school. His professional baseball career was cut short, however, when he was drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. While stationed in Japan, he formed a band known as the Cimmerons and played on the Army baseball team. After his stint in the Army ended in the mid 1950s, he began writing songs and working with Sun Studios owner and founder, Sam Phillips. By the late 1950s, he had signed with MGM Records and taken the stage name, Conway Twitty, which combines the names of two cities, Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas.
Conway Twitty made his debut in 1957 on the Pop/Rock charts with the Buddy Holly-styled "I Need Your Lovin'," a pop rocker co-written by Twitty and James Paulman which became a minor hit. His fame took off the following year with the yearning "It's Only Make Believe" (1958), a lush, Elvis Presley sound-alike ballad co-written by Twitty and Jack Nance which topped the Pop/Rock charts and became a Top 20 R&B hit. Twitty also had three Top 10 hits with "Danny Boy" (1959), "Lonely Blue Boy" (1959), and "C'est Si Bon (It's So Good)" (1960), a cover of a late 1940s French popular song performed entirely in French. His long string of hits on the Pop/Rock charts, which continued through 1975, also included "The Story Of My Love" (1959), "What Am I Living For" (1960), "Is A Bluebird Blue" (1960), covers of such oldies standards as "Mona Lisa" (1959) and "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On" (1960), and the self-penned and then-controversial "You've Never Been This Far Before" (1973), the latter of which became one of many songs to top the Country charts.
By the late 1960s, Twitty had made a permanent switch to country, his first musical love, while maintaining his Pop/Rock crossover appeal through the mid 1970s. He debuted on the Country charts in 1966 with "Guess My Eyes Were Bigger Than My Heart" and had his first #1 hit two years later with "Next In Line" (1968). Twitty amassed a total of 40 #1 hits on the Billboard Country chart, more than any other act until George Strait broke that record in 2009. These chart-toppers included his greatest hit, the self-penned and heartfelt "Hello Darlin'" (1970), plus such classics as "I See The Want In Your Eyes" (1974), "Linda On My Mind" (1975), "I've Already Loved You In My Mind" (1977), "Don't Take It Away" (1979), "I'd Love To Lay You Down" (1980), "Tight Fittin' Jeans" (1981), and "I Don't Know A Thing About Love (The Moon Song)" (1984). He also recorded a series of award-winning duets with Loretta Lynn during the 1970s that included the chart-topping "After The Fire Is Gone" (1971), "Lead Me On" (1971), "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (1973), "As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone" (1974), and "Feelins'" (1975).
Dubbed the "High Priest of Country Music" by his peers, Conway Twitty was inducted into the Country Music in 1999. His many other honors and accolades included two Grammys, the ACM Pioneer Award (2008), numerous ACM and CMA awards with Loretta Lynn, and being inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
- For more info about Conway Twitty, visit conwaytwitty.com.
- The Washington post remembers country great Conway Twitty.
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- C'est Si Bon (It's So Good) 1960
- Hello Darlin' 1970
- Lonely Blue Boy 1959
- What Am I Living For 1960
(This song was previously a hit for Chuck Willis (1958) and later also became a hit for Percy Sledge (1967) and Ray Charles (1972).)
- You've Never Been This Far Before 1973
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