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From the Land of Band Box Records

Not a ‘Bobby’ or a ‘Johnny’ – but a Twitty!

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Rocker Twitty

Conway Twitty was born and raised in the South and became the most successful rocker to convert to country of all time.

Twitty was born on September 1st, 1933 in Friars Point Mississippi Harold Lloyd Jenkins.    The Jenkins family would head off to Arkansas where young Jenkins at the age of 10 formed a country-oriented combo called “The County Ramblers”.

At age twelve he hosted a local radio program on Saturday mornings.  As were so many others, Jenkins was captivated by Elvis Presley and so he headed to Memphis to consult with Sun Records owner Sam Phillips – seeking advice and guidance.  Not sure if he was successful but we do know that Harold didn’t record in the famed studio.

According to legend, Harold changed his name to a more memorable one – taking the names of two towns he observed on a road map – Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas!  The character “Conrad Birdie” derived his name from Harold (played by Jesse Pearson).

In 1957, Twitty landed a Mercury Records contract which result in two minor charting records.  Next, he moved onto MGM Records.  A DJ who was told to spin the record “I’ll Try” fortunately elected to play the other side “It’s Only Make Believe”.  The song started slow but then began a constant climb on the charts culminating in Twitty’s first and only number 1 pop/rock flavored recording.  Twitty;’s backing band was called “The Lonely Blue Boys” naturally.

Conway Twitty was definitely not a pop “Bobby”, “Billy”, “Johnny” or even a “Fabian” – He had a rougher edge and he set himself somewhat apart from the pop males of the day by composing many of his own tracks.  He was cruising right along for a time, hitting the charts with regularity but not setting the charts on fire.

Country Twitty

Then, around 1965, Conway decided to take a stab at country music – something he always wanted to do.  Initially DJ’s ignored Conway’s efforts not wanting to acknowledge a rocker among their ranks – but then he broke through in 1966 with “Guess My Eyes Were Bigger” his second effort after signing on with Decca Records – a label solidly anchored in Nashville.  This would be Conway’s debut Country success (number 18) but was a mere shadow of what was to follow.  (Three of Conway’s earlier rock releases managed to dent the R&B charts.)

Four more moderate country hits would follow landing in the middle of the charts and then came the big breakthrough first with “The Image of Me”
exploding at number 5 in March of 1968 followed a few months later by his first Country top song – “Next In Line” both composed in full or in part by writer Wayne Kemp.

Country Royalty

Conway went on to place a total of 98 songs on the charts – most of them Country – with an incredible 40 number 1’s!  This earned him the title as the “Top Country Artist” in the 1970’s, the number 2 Country Artists in the 1980’s and the number 5 ranked country artist of all time behind Eddy Arnold (#1 – 21 number 1’s), George Jones (#2 -13 number 1’s), George Strait (#3 – 43 number 1’s ) and Johnny Cash (number 4 – 13 number 1’s).

Beginning in 1971 Conway teamed up with Loretta Lynn to chart 14 times with five going number 1 and all of them going Top Ten.

Image result for conway twitty and loretta lynn

Conway definitely found his niche – steamy – sultry – country songs – And changing labels (Elektra – Warner Bros.) didn’t mark the end as was so often the case – number 1’s just kept rolling in.

In case you are wondering, the top ranked female country artists is Dolly Parton (number 7), followed by Reba McEntire (number 11) and Loretta Lynn (number 20).  The top country groups are Alabama (number 16), the Statler Brothers (number 44) and the Oak Ridge Boys (number 56).

Twitty’s personal life was a bit rocky marrying four times – twice to one lady.

Conway was appearing live with Jim Stafford in Branson on June 4, 1993 when he suddenly collapsed on stage.  The next morning on June 5th, Harold Jenkins passed away leaving behind a great country and rock legacy.  He was 59.

Conway Twitty Discography as a Rocker

45 – Mercury 71086X45 – I Need Your Lovin’ – Number 93 – May 20, 1957

45 – Mercury 71148X45 – June 24, 1957

45 – MGM K12677 – It’s Only Make Believe – Number 1 for 2 Weeks – September 15, 1958

45 EP – MGM X1623 – It’s Only Make Believe – September, 1958

45 – Mercury 71384X45 – December, 1958

45 EP – MGM X1640 – Conway Twitty Sings Volume 1 – 1959

45 EP – MGM X1678 – Conway Twitty Sings Volume 2 – 1959

45 EP – MGM X1680 – Conway Twitty Sings Volume 3 – 1959

45 – MGM K12748 – The Story of My Love – Number 28 – January 26, 1959

45 – MGM K12785 – Hey Little Lucy – Number 87 – May 18, 1959

45 – MGM K12804 – Mona Lisa – Number 20 – July 20, 1959

45 – MGM K12826 – Danny Boy – Number 10 – September 28, 1959

45 – MGM K12857 – Lonely Blue Boy – Number 6 – December 28, 1959 – Star Spangled Heaven – Number 107 – January 11, 1960

45 – MGM K12886 – What Am I Living For – Number 26 – March 28, 1960

45 – MGM K12911 – Is A Blue Bird Blue – Number 35 – June 13, 1960 – She’s Mine – Number 98 – August 8, 1960

45 – MGM K12918 – Tell Me One More Time/What A Dream – Charted Number 106- September 12, 1960

45 – MGM K12943 – Teasin/I Need You So – September, 1960

45 – MGM K12962 – Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On – Number 55 – October 31, 1961

45 – MGM K12969 – C’est Si Bon (It’s So Good) – Number 22 – December, 1960

45 – MGM K12998 – The Next Kiss (Is the Last Goodbye) – Number 72 – April 1960

45 – MGM K13011 – A Million Teardrops/I’m In Blue, Blue Mood – May, 1961

45 – MGM K13034 – It’s Drivin’ Me Wild/Sweet Sorrow – Number 107 – October 16, 1961

45 – MGM K13050 – Portrait of a Fool – Number 98 – January 20, 1962

(Conway’s final MGM charting record in the Hot 100 as a rocker)

MGM – K13072 – A Little Piece of of My Heart/Comfy’ and Cozy – Number  120  – April 30, 1962

45 – MGM K13149 – Unchained Melody – Number 128 – August 25th, 1962

45 – MGM 13112 – I Hope, I Think, I Wish/The Pickup – Number 106 – – December 29, 1962

45 – MGM K13149 – Got My Mojo Working/She Ain’t No Angel – June, 1963

45 – ABC Paramount 45-10507 – Go On and Cry/She Loves Me (She Don’t Love You) – November, 1963

45 – ABC Paramount 45-10550 – Such a Night/My Baby Left Me – May, 1964

LP – MGM E 3744 – Conway Twitty Sings – March, 1959

LP – MGM E 3849 – Conway Twitty’s Greatest Hits -1960

LP – MGM E 3907 – The Rock and Roll Story – 1961

LP – MGM E 3943 – The Conway Twitty Touch – 1961

LP – MGM E 4019 – Portrait of a Fool – January, 1962

LP – MGM E 4089 – R&B 63 – 1963

LP – MGM E 4217 – Hit the Road! – 1964

Conway Twitty Number One Country Hits Collage

Conway Twitty with Loretta Lynn Number 1 Country Hits

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