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Conway Twitty

1933 - 1993

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Conway Twitty - It's Only Make Beleive
 
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Conway Twitty
 
Bio - Conway Twitty
Born 1934 Died June 5, 1993

Born Harold Jenkins, he grew up in Friars Point, Mississippi. His father, a riverboat pilot, was teaching him guitar chords by the age of 4. "The only music we heard was country music," Twitty said. "we'd all get together on Saturday night at my grandma's house and listen to the Grand Ole Opry. I didn't know there was another station."

He began his career writing rockabilly songs and took them directly to Sun Records, which served as home to Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. But he didn't have a hit until he recorded "It's Only Make Believe" for MGM. In 1958, that song went to the top of the charts selling 8 million copies and hitting number one in 22 countries-- and made Twitty, not Harold Jenkins, a teen sensation.

Twitty had changed his name with the help of his manager, Don Seat. They sat down with a map, and after a few tries, stuck a pin in Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas, to produce a name as memoriable as Elvis Presley.

Conway Twitty's musical career spanned some 40 Years and earned him more Number one records than any other artist in any genre of music.

Twitty's voice and music knew no boundaries, he successfully crossed over from rock'n'roll to country in the 1960s. Surviving the changing tastes in the country market that often overlooked established country acts for newer and younger singers. His music, was recorded on every format from 78 rpms to CDs, also encompassed rockabilly, Dixieland, blues, R&B and gospel. Twitty had a song somewhere on the charts for five decades, including 55 No. 1 hits.

He is the only singer in the history of American music, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, to have more than 50 number one hits.
"It's Only Make Believe," Hello Darlin'," You've Never Been This Far Before" and "Linda On My Mind" are just a few of Twitty songs that have become country music standards.

Many people did not realized he wrote many of his own songs.
 
 
Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins September 1, 1933 in Friars Point Mississippi.

His father, a riverboat pilot taught him his first chords on the guitar when he was 4 years old. At the age of 12 his family moved to Helana Arkansas. There he put together his first band, "The Phillips Country Ramblers." He also had his own radio show on KFFA in Helena. It was here he discovered his love for baseball and decided he wanted to play professional ball. After graduating from High School, he was offered a contract to play with the Philadelphia Phillies.

But before he could sign he was drafted into the Army. After his discharge Conway decided to give up the baseball bat and picked up the guitar. All though he loved country music he didn't think he was good enough to compete with his idols. Twitty auditioned at Sun Records for Sam Phillips-- the legendary producer who signed Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison--but Phillips did not offer Twitty a contract. Instead, the singer found himself at Mercury Records with a producer who urged him to change his name.

He was reluctant at first, because he wanted the folks in his hometown to see that "Harold Jenkins" had made the big time. Eventually, though, he became convinced that only a distinctive name would assure his singles air time in the competitive pop market. He used maps of the South to come up with his stage name-- Conway, from Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, from Twitty,Texas.

Conway married first wife, Georgia, c. 1955 (divorced, 1985); married Dee Henry (a secretary and record producer), 1987; children: (first marriage) Conway, Jr., Cathy.

I Need Your Lovin'," was Twitty's first chart-making song. In 1958 the artist moved to MGM Records and released "It's Only Make Believe," a song he wrote himself. The record-- a powerful vocal performance featuring Twitty's trademark growl-- became one of the biggest singles of the 1950s, selling in excess of eight million copies and topping record charts in 22 countries. In America "It's Only Make Believe" reached Number One on the country, pop, and blues charts and made a star of its author.

From 1958 until 1965 Twitty rode a crest of popularity as a rock 'n'roll performer. He was such a phenomenon that he inspired the character of Conrad Birdie in the Broadway musical Bye Bye, Birdie.

Despite his wide success as a rock'n'roll star, Twitty was writing country songs as early as 1960. But he had no oulet for them. "Finally" he said, "I thought I'd lived long enough and experienced enough things to compete with my heroes and do justice to a country song."

He let his MGM deal expire and presented himself to Decca producer Owen Bradley in Nashville. Bradley signed Twitty as strictly a country performer, and the two men worked together for the next 20 years, scoring 36 consecutive Top Five hits between 1968 and 1977.
Both as a solo singer and in duet with country superstar Loretta Lynn, Twitty was almost always represented somewhere on the country charts. His biggest hits include "Guess My Eyes Were Bigger Than My Heart," "Next in Line," "Hello Darlin'," "She Needs Someone to Hold Her," "The Games That Daddies Play," and "Play Guitar, Play." Occasionally he released songs featuring suggestive lyrics-- "You've Never Been This Far Before" and "Slow Hand"--that sold all the more for the controversy they engendered.

Remarkably, Twitty never won an award from the Country Music Association for his solo work, even though he and Lynn won best duo almost constantly throughout the 1970s. By 1980, he had become the most consistent hit-maker in the history of country music. He always preferred to let his image live through his music.

In 1989 the A.M.O.A (Amusement and Music Operators of America) celebrated The 100th birthday of jukeboxes. In honor of this, they decided to start a "Jukebox Award." The first year at their annual convention (September, 1989), Conway was honored with this award in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the success of the jukebox industry.

In June 1989, Twitty celebrated the seventh anniversary of "Twitty City," a nine-acre tourist complex in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.Twitty developed the complex with the country music fan in mind.

Throughout his long career, he has touched virtually every popular musical Category of the nation: rockabilly, blues, rock'n'roll, Dixieland, R&B, gospel and mainstream country.

Conway Twitty, died in 1993 at age 59 from an aneurysm in his stomach while returning home to Hendersonville, Tennessee. Conway was survived by his mother, his four grown children, and by his second wife Dee, whom he had married in 1987. Twitty was still going strong when he died.


 

Selected Discography

Hello Darlin', MCA, reissue, 1985.
Chasin' Rainbows, Warner Bros., 1985.
Fallin' for You for Years, Warner Bros., 1986.
Borderline,MCA, 1987.
Number Ones: The Warner Bros.
Years, Warner Bros., 1988.
House on Old Lonesome Road, MCA, 1989.
Greatest Hits, MCA, 3 Volumes; Volume 3,
1990. Crazy in Love, MCA, 1990.
25th Silver Anniversary Collection, MCA, 1990.
Number Ones, Capitol Nashville, 1991.
Hits of Conway Twitty, MGM.
Hit the Road, MGM.
Conway Twitty, MGM.
Honky Tonk Angels, MCA.
I'm Not through Loving You, MCA.
To See My Angel Cry, MCA. Shake It Up,
Pickwick. Linda on My Mind, MCA.
You've Never Been This Far, MCA.
High Priest of Country, MCA.
Now and Then, MCA. Twitty, MCA.
Play Guitar, Play, MCA.
Cross Winds, MCA.
Heart and Soul, MCA.
A Night with Conway Twitty, MCA.
Number Ones, MCA.
Songwriter, MCA.
By Heart, Warner Bros.
Conway's #1 Classics, 2 Volumes, Warner Bros.
Don't Call Him a Cowboy, Warner Bros.
Dream Maker, Warner Bros.
Lost in the Feeling, Warner Bros.
Southern Comfort, Warner Bros.
With Loretta Lynn
Twenty Greatest Hits of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, MCA, 1987.
The Very Best of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, MCA, 1988.
Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man, MCA.
We Only Make Believe, MCA.
Country Partners, MCA.
Feelin's, MCA.
United Talent, MCA.
Never-Ending Song of Love, Coral.
Diamond Duet, MCA.
Dynamic Duo, MCA.
Lead Me On, MCA.
Two's a Party, MCA.
 
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