|Richard Edward Arnold
|Also known as
|May 15 1918
|Henderson, Tennessee, USA
|May 8 2008
|1946 – Present
Eddy Arnold (May 15, 1918 – May 8, 2008) was an American country music singer, ranked by Billboard magazine as the No. 1 country artist of all time. From 1945 through 1983, Arnold had 145 songs on the charts, including 28 number-one country hits. With such classics as "Make The World Go Away" and "What's He Doing In My World," Arnold was known for his smooth, easy-going style, which allowed many of his records to cross over to the pop market as well as top the country charts.
Arnold was instrumental in the postwar movement of country music from a rural vernacular idiom to a music with broad commercial appeal. "I’ve never thought of myself as a country-and-western singer,” he told the Charlotte Observer in 1968. "With the type material I do, I’m really a pop music artist. . . . I want my songs to be accepted by everyone."
After years playing dances and appearing on radio, Arnold got his first break in 1940 as a singer with the Golden West Cowboys, which appeared regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1943, he hosted his own program on WSM radio, followed by a recording contract and a coveted role as a regular host on the Opry. The cowboy yodel "Cattle Call" became his signature song, followed by a long line of hits, including one period (November 1947 through January 1949) where he had six songs at number one on the country charts and six songs in the Top 10 at the same time.
In the mid-1960s, Arnold turned to lush, heavily orchestrated recordings that reinvigorated his career, winning him an expanded audience for his style of country music. In contrast to country artists like Hank Williams, Arnold usually dwelt on the positive, enduring aspects of love, rather than the tragedy and heartbreak of infidelity. He also served as a role model to many fans. His marriage to Sally Gayhart Arnold at the beginning of his career in 1941 lasted 67 years, until her death in 2008. He continued to record and look after his numerous business interests until his death in 2008.
Born Richard Edward Arnold in Henderson, Tennessee, Arnold lost both his father and the family farm during his childhood. Arnold was given a guitar at the age of ten by his mother, and made his first radio appearance in 1936. When he turned 18 he left home to try to break into the music business. Besides singing anywhere he could, the young Arnold worked and slept in a funeral parlor.
Arnold eventually moved to St. Louis, where he played in nightclubs, meanwhile landing a regular spot on WMPS in Memphis, spending six years at the radio station. Through the show, the singer earned a dedicated following of fans. Eventually, he was picked up as the lead male vocalist for Pee Wee King's band The Golden West Cowboys, which appeared regularly on the Grand Ole Opry, country music's premiere venue.
By 1943, Arnold had become a solo artist on the Opry. He was then signed by RCA Victor, and in December 1944, he cut his first record. Although his early records sold well, his first big hit did not come until 1946 with "That's How Much I Love You." In common with many other country and western singers of the time, he had a folksy nickname: "The Tennessee Plowboy."
Managed by "Colonel" Tom Parker,who would go on to win fame by managing the career of Elvis Presley, Arnold began to dominate the country music business in terms of commercial success. In 1947-1948 the 20 top-selling songs included 13 by Arnold. In 1955, Arnold traveled to New York and record with the sophisticated Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra. This move was greeted with disdain by country traditionalists, including many in the country music business establishment. However, his pop-oriented renditions of earlier country hits clearly expanded his appeal. Within a few years, the Nashville establishment was striving to mimic his success.
In the late 50s, after the advent of rock and roll, Arnold's record sales began to fall. Along with label-mate Jim Reeves, he continued to try to court a wider audience by using pop-sounding, string-laced arrangements, a style that would come to be known as the Nashville sound.
Arnold soon embarked on a second career after Jerry Purcell became his manager in 1964, which surpassed even the success of his first one. In the process, Arnold achieved in his ambition of bringing his music to a much more diverse audience. His smash hit "Make The World Go Away" had been recorded earlier by several other artists, but reached a universal dimension when recorded by Arnold. Produced in the slick, updated Nashville style of Chet Atkins and backed by pianist Floyd Cramer and the Anita Kerr Singers, Arnold's version became an international hit.
Arranger Bill Russell provided intricate settings for 16 straight Arnold hits through the late 1960s. Arnold started performing with symphony orchestras in virtually every major American city. New Yorkers jammed the prestigious Carnegie Hall for two concerts. Arnold also appeared before the Hollywood crowd at the Coconut Grove and had long, sold-out engagements in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.
After having recorded for RCA Victor since the 1940s, Arnold left the label to record four albums for MGM Records in the 1970s, posting one hit ("If The Whole World Stopped Lovin'"). He then returned to RCA Victor with both the album Eddy, and the hit single "Cowboy," which evoked stylistic memories of his classic "Cattle Call." After a few more RCA releases, he retired from active singing; however, he did release a new RCA album, After All These Years in 2005 at the age of 87.
Arnold also appeared in the 1950 Hollywood films Hoedown and Feudin' Rhythm. In 1952, he became the first country artist to host his own prime-time network TV show, "Eddy Arnold Time." He also hosted "Out on the Farm" in 1954, "Today on the Farm" in 1960 and "Kraft Music Hall" in 1968, and made guest appearances on virtually all of the popular variety programs of the era.
A style for success
From the beginning, Eddy Arnold stood out from his contemporaries in the world of country singers. He never wore gaudy, glittering outfits, and sang from his diaphragm, not through his nose. He avoided the standard honky-tonk themes, preferring instead to sing songs that explored the intricacies of love.
Arnold also benefited from his association with excellent musicians. Steel guitar player Roy Wiggins highlighted most of his early recordings, while Charles Green played bass. Green had earlier been employed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and it was he who created Arnold's early arrangements, adding the smooth strains of violins (not country "fiddles") in 1956. Guitarist Chet Atkins played on many of Arnold's records, not to mention producing his records in the sophisticated "Nashville sound" style that irritated traditionalists but clearly gave Arnold a wider audience. Bassist Bob Moore, called the most recorded musician in history, first performed on the road with Eddy Arnold on the 1954 "RCA Caravan" and later performed on most of Arnold's hit recordings. Arnold also benefited from the management of "Colonel" Tom Parker, who guided his first career, and Jerry Purcell, who masterminded the second.
The most important factor in Eddy Arnold's success, however, was his voice. Arnold was a natural singer, whose voice has been compared to such performers as Bing Crosby and Enrico Caruso. Arnold's longevity was exceptional, with his career spanning more than 50 years. Only a few other performers have survived the changing popular musical tastes as successfully. His later concerts were notable in that they often attracted three generations of fans.
In his personal life, Arnold served as a role model to many fans. His career was absent of the taint of alcohol and drugs and his marriage to his wife, Sally Gayhart Arnold, lasted from 1941 until her death on March 11, 2008.
Arnold died on May 8 of the same year, in Franklin, Tennessee, just one week short of his ninetieth birthday. Eddy and Sally Arnold were survived by their children, "Dickie" and Jo Ann, as well as two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
While Arnold's later style of country music was sometimes criticized by the more traditional performers, it is undoubtedly a fact that Arnold helped introduce Nashville and country music to the world. Over his career, Arnold sold over 85 million records and had 147 songs on the charts, including 28 number-one hits on Billboard's "Country Singles" chart. Among his recordings are songs for mothers and children, hymns, show tunes, and novelty numbers. However, Arnold is best known for his way with a love song.
- Eddy Arnold was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966.
- He was named the Country Music Association's (CMT's) Entertainer of the Year in 1967.
- In 2003, Arnold ranked number 22 in CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.
- In the same year, he donated hundreds of his career-related items to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum which placed them on a special exhibit.
"One More Time" 1962
|I Want to Go With You
|The Everlovin' World of Eddy Arnold
|Songs of the Young World
|Love and Guitars
|Portrait of My Woman
|A Legend and His Lady
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Arnold, Eddy. It's A Long Way From Chester County. Old Tappan, NJ: Hewitt House. OCLC 13352
- Cusic, Don. Eddy Arnold: I'll Hold You in My Heart. Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hall Press, 1997. ISBN 978-1558534926
- Freda, Michael D. Eddy Arnold Discography, 1944-1996. Greenwood Press, 1997. ISBN 9780313303883
- Friskics-Warren, Bill. Eddy Arnold, 89, Country Singer With Pop Luster, Dies The New York Times, May 9, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
- Rumble, John. "Eddy Arnold." In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0195116717
- Streissquth, Michael. Eddy Arnold: Pioneer of the Nashville Sound. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0028647197
All links retrieved February 12, 2024.
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