Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Mississippi, in 1933, and took his famous stage name in 1957. He found early musical success in pop and rock 'n' roll before turning full-time to country in 1965. As a country artist, he found his way to the top of the Billboard chart 55 times, a record until 2006, with songs such as "Hello Darlin'" and "Slow Hand."
Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins on September 1, 1933, in Friars Point, Mississippi, Conway Twitty was handed his first guitar at age 4. Showing early musical talent, Twitty formed his first band when he was 10. As a youth, besides playing music, Twitty excelled at baseball, and after he graduated from high school, the Philadelphia Phillies offered him a contract to play for them. The Korean War interrupted his dream, though, and he was drafted into the Army. In the mid-1950s Twitty was swept up in the furor surrounding Elvis Presley, and he moved to Memphis to pursue his musical ambitions once again. He soon landed a record contract with MGM and adopted the stage name Conway Twitty (from Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas).
Rock and Country Musician
In 1958, Twitty scored his first No. 1 hit with the rock single "It's Only Make Believe," which sold 8 million copies. Over the next 10 years, Twitty switched from rock to country music, and he landed his first country hit in 1968 with "Next in Line.” With that song, Twitty took the first step toward becoming a country-music legend, scoring 50 consecutive No. 1 hits (55 overall, a number bested only by George Strait) and earning the nickname "High Priest of Country Music" along the way. With these hits and countless others driving him, Twitty sold 50 million records, performed thousands of concerts and won more than 100 awards over the next 30-plus years (including six Academy of Country Music Awards, four Country Music Association Awards, and two Grammys).
Conway Twitty's songs, including "Hello Darlin'," "Goodbye Time," "I'd Love To Lay You Down" and "That's My Job," peppered three decades of country music, and his duets with Loretta Lynn made them one of the most decorated male/female duos in recording history.
In addition to performing his songs live, Conway Twitty managed to appear in three feature films (all in 1961): College Confidential, Sex Kittens Go to College and Platinum High School. In 1982 he also opened one of the largest tourist attractions in the state of Tennessee, Twitty City, a country-music entertainment complex.
Conway Twitty died at age 59 in 1993 while touring in Missouri. He was inducted posthumously into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
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