Conway Twitty

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The son of a riverboat captain, Twitty (born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, September 1, 1933; died June 5, 1993) was born in Mississippi and raised in Helena, AR, where he learned to love not only country, but also blues and gospel. When he was ten years old, he joined his first group, the Phillips Country Ramblers, who occasionally performed on local radio. Despite his interest in music, he originally planned to become a professional baseball player. Jenkins was talented enough to be offered a contract by the Philadelphia Phillies, but he was unable to join the team, since he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. While he was serving in the Far East, he sang with a country band called the Cimarrons. Returning to America in 1956, Jenkins still had an open offer to join the Phillies, yet he decided to pursue a musical career after he heard Elvis Presley.

According to CMT.com… originally a ’50s rock & roll singer, Conway Twitty became the reigning country superstar of the ’70s and ’80s, racking up a record 40 number one hits over the course of two decades. With his deep, resonant down-home voice, Twitty was one of the smoothest balladeers to work in Nashville during the country-pop era, but he was also one of the most adventurous. More than any other singer, he was responsible for selling country as an “adult” music, slipping sexually suggestive lyrics into his lush productions, yet never singing misogynist lyrics — by and large, his songs were sensitive and sensual, which is part of the reason why he achieved such a large success. Once Twitty reached the top of the country charts in the late ’60s, he stayed there for years on end, releasing a consistent stream of Top Ten hits that both defined and expanded the limitations of country-pop by adding subtle R&B, pop, and rock & roll influences. Though he had some pop success, Twitty remained country to the core — occasionally, his song titles were simply too corny — which was why he retained his popularity until his death in 1993.

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