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 55 No.1 Billboard country hits until George Strait broke the record in 2006. From 1971–76, Twitty received a string of Country Music Association awards for duets with Loretta Lynn. He was never a member of the Grand Ole Opry, but was inducted into both the Country Music and the Rockabilly Halls of Fame.
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 DJs 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 5.
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, including "Lead Me On" (1971), "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (1973), "As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone" (1974), "Feelins'" (1975), "I Still Believe In Waltzes", "I Can't Love You Enough" and many others. 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 he 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-10 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 number 1 hits. George Strait eclipsed the feat of 50 number 1 hits in 2002 with his single "She'll Leave You With a Smile" and then reached No. 1 for the 56th time in 2007 with the single "Wrapped".
Throughout much of his country music career his home was Decca Records, later re-named MCA. He signed with the label in late 1965 but left in 1981 when it appeared Decca 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 1990, shortly before he died, he recorded a new album, Final Touches.Twitty became ill while performing in Branson, Missouri, and was in pain while he was on the tour bus. He died in Springfield, Missouri, at Cox South Hospital from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He died two months before the release of what would be his final studio album, Final Touches, and four months before the release of George Jones's album High-Tech Redneck which featured a cover of "Hello Darlin'" Conway is a True Legend that's for Sure
1990 promotional photo
|Birth name||Harold Lloyd Jenkins|
|Born||September 1, 1933|
Friars Point, Mississippi
|Died||June 5, 1993 (aged 59)|
|Genres||country, rock and roll|
|Years active||1955 – 1993|
|Labels||MCA, Elektra, MGM, Decca, Sun Records,|
|Associated acts||Loretta Lynn, Sam Moore, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Twitty Birds|