Conway Twitty Part One
1974 promotional photo
I didn’t know how many C&W performers that I like, but I’m not complaining, for Conway Twitty is one of the great ones. In this blog Conway Twitty Part One, you’ll read his earlier life, and his double album of his greatest hits. This blog Conway Twitty Part One will have the first Disc, just so you will come back for Part Two.
|Birth name||Harold Lloyd Jenkins|
|Born||September 1, 1933
Friars Point, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||June 5, 1993 (aged 59)
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.
|Genres||Country, rock and roll, rockabilly|
|Labels||MCA, Elektra, MGM, Decca, Sun Records, Warner Bros. Records|
|Associated acts||Loretta Lynn, Sam Moore, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Twitty Bird Band, Joni Lee, Owen Bradley, John Hughey, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Jimmy Van Eaton, Don Bowman|
Harold Lloyd Jenkins (September 1, 1933 – June 5, 1993), better known by his stage name Conway Twitty, was an American country music singer. He also had success in the rock and roll, rock, R&B, and pop genres. From 1971 to 1976, Twitty received a string of Country Music Association awards for duets with Loretta Lynn. Although never a member of the Grand Ole Opry, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Life And Career
Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins on September 1, 1933, in Friars Point, in Coahoma County, in northwestern Mississippi. The Jenkins family were of Welsh descent. He was named by his great-uncle, after his favorite silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd. The Jenkins family moved to Helena, Arkansas, when Jenkins was 10 years old. In Helena, Jenkins formed his first singing group, the Phillips County Ramblers.
Two years later, Jenkins had his own local radio show every Saturday morning. He also played baseball, his second passion. He received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school, but he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the Far East and organized a group called the Cimmerons to entertain his fellow soldiers.
Wayne Hause, a neighbor, suggested that Jenkins could make it in the music industry. Soon after hearing Elvis Presley’s song “Mystery Train”, Jenkins began writing rock and roll material. He went to the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and worked with Sam Phillips, the owner and founder, to get the “right” sound.
Accounts vary of how Jenkins acquired the stage name of Conway Twitty. Allegedly, in 1957, Jenkins decided that his real name was not memorable enough and sought a better show business name. In The Billboard Book of Number One Hits Fred Bronson states that the singer was looking at a road map when he spotted Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas, and chose the name Conway Twitty.
Another account says that Jenkins met a Richmond, Virginia, man named W. Conway Twitty Jr. through Jenkins’ manager in a New York City restaurant. The manager served in the U.S. Army with the real Conway Twitty. Later, the manager suggested to Jenkins that he take the name as his stage name because it had a ring to it. In the mid-1960s, W. Conway Twitty recorded the song “What’s in a Name but Trouble”, lamenting the loss of his name to Jenkins.
Pop And Rock And Roll Success
In 1958 using his new stage name, Twitty’s fortunes improved while he was with MGM Records, and an Ohio radio station had an inspiration, refraining from playing “I’ll Try” (an MGM single that went nowhere in terms of sales, radio play, and jukebox play), instead playing the B-side, “It’s Only Make Believe”, a song written between sets by Twitty and drummer Jack Nance when they were in Hamilton, Ontario, playing at the Flamingo Lounge. The record took nearly one year to reach and stay at the top spot on the Billboard pop music charts in the United States and number 1 in 21 other countries, becoming the first of nine top-40 hits for Twitty. It sold over four million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. That same year, country singer Tabby West of ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee heard Twitty and booked him to appear on the show.
When “It’s Only Make Believe” was first released, because of vocal similarities, many listeners assumed that the song was actually recorded by Elvis Presley, using “Conway Twitty” as a pseudonym. Twitty would go on to enjoy rock-and-roll success with songs including “Danny Boy” (Pop number 10) and “Lonely Blue Boy” (Pop number 6). “Lonely Blue Boy”, originally titled “Danny”, was recorded by Presley for the film King Creole but was not used in the soundtrack. This song led to him naming his band the Lonely Blue Boys. They subsequently became the Twitty Birds.