60s Music

Biography of Eddy Arnold

Eddy Arnold
Photo of Eddy Arnold performing on the television program Kraft Music Hall. (Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction to Eddy Arnold

Eddy Arnold (May 15, 1918 – May 8, 2008) was one of the most successful country singers not only in the 50s music history but of all time.  From 1945-1954 he had 58 consecutive Billboard Country hit songs.  Eddy was born Richard Edward Arnold on a farm near Henderson, Tennessee, to sharecropper parents who were both amateur musicians.  Eddy began performing at high school functions which led to him being hired as a radio performer launching his career.  In his early years he was known as “The Tennessee Plowboy,” taken from his farming roots.  In 1940-1943 Eddy appeared on The Grand Ole Opry radio show which led to his signing with RCA Victor Records in 1944.  His second recording for them, “Each Minute Seems a Million Years,” peaked at #5 and Eddy followed with a string of 58 consecutive top ten country hit songs.  In 1947 alone he had three #1 songs, “What is Life Without You”, “It’s a Sin” and “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)”.  In the mid 1950’s, with the popularity of rock and roll, Eddy knew that he had to change his style.  He started, what became known as, the Nashville Sound by adding orchestrated arrangements to his country recordings.  Eddy’s career boomed again with crossover hits such as “Make the World Go Away” (Peaking at #6 on the pop Billboard Hot 100 chart), What’s He Doing In My World”, “I Want to Go With You”, “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me” and “The Tip of My Finger”.  From 1970 until the end of his career Eddy’s songs no longer crossed over to the pop charts, landing only on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles.  Eddy’s 1970 singles charted steadily, but none became big hits.  In 1980, however, Eddy’s popularity emerged again with two country hits, “Let’s Get It While the Gettin’s Good” and “That’s What I Get for Loving You,” charting inside the Billboard country music top ten.  In 1984 Eddy decided to semi-retire and had no other major hit recordings during the remainder of his lifetime.  He recorded and performed occasionally until his death in 2008.  His final single “To Life” was released after his death, peaking at #49, making it almost 63 years between his first charting song to his last, the longest span ever between charting songs.   Other Eddy Arnold hit songs:  “Anytime,” “Texarkana Baby,” “Bouquet of Roses,” “Cattle Call,” “Misty Blue,” “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” “Easy on the Eyes,” “I Wanna Play House With You,” “Take Me In Your Arms and Hold Me,” “The Lovebug Itch,” “Kentucky Waltz,” “A Full Time Job,” “There’s Been a Change In Me,” “I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love),” “Cuddle Buggin’ Baby,” “A Heart Full of Love (For a Handful of Kisses),” “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle,” “One Kiss to Many,” “The Echo of Your Footsteps,” “Little Angel with the Dirty Face,” “Somebody’s Been Beatin’ My Time,” “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “I’ve Been Thinking,” “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “That Do Make It Nice,” “I Wish That I Had Loved You Better,” “If Everyone Had Someone Like You,” “All I’m Missing Is You,” “Cowboy,” “Soul Deep” & “Don’t Look Now (But We Just Fell In Love).”

 

Early Years

Richard Edward Arnold, aka Eddy Arnold, was an American country singer born on May 15, 1918 in Henderson, Tennessee. Since Arnold was raised in a farm where his father worked as a sharecropper, he was also known by the alias “Tennessee Plowboy.” He used to play guitar when he was in high school. Although he didn’t continue his studies, he chose to work in the farm and perform music at the same time. He was also a part-time assistant in a mortuary.

 

 

Eddy Arnold’s road to stardom

In 1934, the 16-year old Arnold was already a mainstay in a local radio station in Jackson Tennessee, WTJS-AM. During 1938, Arnold found work again when WMPS-AM, a local radio station in Memphis hired him. From then on, he became one of radio station’s most sought-after performers.  Arnold later left WPMS-AM and worked in St. Louis’ KWK-AM and Louisville’s WHAS-AM. After all the radio engagements, Arnold was privileged to do a solo performance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1943 where he eventually became a member. It was followed in 1944 with a recording contract with RCA Victor where he was managed by Colonel Tom Parker (who later handled Elvis Presley). A year after, Arnold released two singles but the first one was a failure. The other single, “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” entered at #5 on the country charts. It was the start of his career filled with musical successes for the following years. The second single was followed with his first big hit, “That’s How Much I Love You” which peaked at #2 on the country charts. Two years after, Arnold released nine songs which made to the top 10 and five of these peaked at #1: “Anytime,” “Bouquet of Roses,” “Texarkana Baby,” “(Just a Little Lovin) Will Go a Long Way”  and “A Heart Full of Love.”

In the early 1950’s, Arnold hosted own show simply entitled The Eddy Arnold Show which was broadcast in three networks. Aside from that, he also hosted several TV shows such as ABC’s Ozark Jubilee (1955-60), Eddy Arnold Time (1955-57) and NBC’s Today on the Farm (1960-1961).

 

 

Arnold as one of the pioneers of the Nashville sound

During the 1950s, Arnold’s sales and popularity were affected by the rise of the new genre: rock and roll. Despite that, his songs, arranged with strings this time, still found a considerable audience. While his songs, such as pop-oriented “The Cattle Call,” alienated many country purists, but it otherwise helped him to find a greater audience beyond the country music sphere.  He and fellow RCA Victor artist Jim Reeves became the pioneers of what was to become the Nashville sound. After ten years, Arnold scored #1 hits in 1965 with “What’s He Doing in My World” and “Make The World Go Away” featuring the voices of Anita Kerr Singers and the keys of pianist Floyd Kramer. In the late 1960’s, Arnold teamed up with Bill Walker’s orchestra arrangements for 16 outstanding tracks. He also worked with other symphony orchestra acts in New York City’s Carnegie Hall for a couple of concerts and in Las Vegas’ Coconut Grove. In 1966, Arnold was the youngest performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame by that time and was later awarded as the first-ever Entertainer of the Year in the Country Music Association. In 1968, Arnold wrote It’s A Long Way from Chester County, an autobiography.

 

Later years

In 1980’s, Arnold was no longer active in the music business but persisted in recording albums. He was awarded by the Academy of Country Music with its Pioneer Award in 1984. In 1996, RCA released an album of Arnold’s collection of big hits since 1944. Three years later, the 80-year old Arnold finally announced his retirement while having his concert in Las Vegas’ Hotel New Orleans. Later that year, he was inducted by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the recording of “Make the World Go Away” into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2005. Later in 2005, RCA issued Arnold’s final album, After All These Years.

On May 8, 2008, one week before his 90th birthday, Eddy Arnold died from natural causes at a nursing home in Nashville.

 

 

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