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Eddy Arnold 1918-2008

Country : Henderson, TN
Profession : Country Musician
Date of birth : 1918-05-15
Date of death : 2008-05-08
Cause of Death : Illness

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Early years

Born in Henderson, Tennessee, Arnold lost both his father and the family farm during his childhood. When he turned 18, he left home to try to make his mark in the music world.

Arnold made his first radio appearance in 1936, but struggled to gain recognition until he landed a job as the lead male vocalist for the Pee Wee King band. He married the former Sally Gayhart in November 1942. By 1943, Arnold had become a solo star on the Grand Ole Opry. He was 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 the flamboyant Colonel Tom Parker (who later managed Elvis Presley), Arnold began to dominate country music. From 1947-48, he had 13 of the top 20 songs. He became host of Mutual Radio's Purina-sponsored segment of the Opry and of Mutual’s Checkerboard Jamboree, a noontime show shared with Ernest Tubb broadcast from a Nashville theater. Recorded radio shows widened Arnold’s exposure, as did the CBS Network series Hometown Reunion, undertaken with the Duke of Paducah after Arnold left the Opry in 1948. In 1949 and 1950 Arnold appeared in the Columbia films Feudin’ Rhythm and Hoedown.

He made the transition from radio to television in the early 1950s, hosting The Eddy Arnold Show over three summers on all three networks (two were fill-in shows for Perry Como and Dinah Shore). He was also a frequent guest on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee, although his syndicated TV series, Eddy Arnold Time, was not a success. From 1960-1961 he hosted NBC-TV's Today on the Farm.

In 1955, Arnold upset many in the country music establishment by recording with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra in New York. The pop-oriented arrangements of "Cattle Call" and "The Richest Man (in the World)," however, helped to expand his appeal beyond its country base.

With the advent of rock and roll, Arnold's record sales dipped in the late 1950s. Along with RCA Victor 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.

Second career: the Nashville sound

After Jerry Purcell became his manager in 1964, Arnold embarked on a second career that surpassed the success of the first one and achieved his ambition of bringing his music to a more diverse audience. Already released by several artists, "Make the World Go Away" was just another song until recorded by Arnold. Under the direction of producer Chet Atkins and showcased by Bill Walker's arrangement and the talents of the Anita Kerr Singers and pianist Floyd Cramer, Arnold's rendition of the song became an international hit on the country and pop charts.

Bill Walker's precise, intricate arrangements provided the lush background for 16 straight Arnold hits through the late 1960s. He began performing with symphony orchestras in virtually every major city: New Yorkers jammed Carnegie Hall for two concerts, he appeared in Hollywood at the Coconut Grove, and had long, sold-out engagements in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

Arnold was honored with induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966 and was voted the first Country Music Association's Entertainer Of The Year the following year. In 1969 he published his autobiography, It's A Long Way From Chester County (Old Tappan, N.J.: Hewitt House; 154 pages).

After having recorded for RCA Victor since the 1940s, Arnold left the label to record four albums for MGM Records in the 1970s, and posted several Top 40 hits, including 1974's Top 20 hit, "I Wish That I Had Loved You Better." He then returned to RCA Victor with the album Eddy and the hit single "Cowboy," which evoked stylistic memories of his classic, "Cattle Call."

Later years

In 1985 Arnold received the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award. After a few more RCA releases, he retired from active singing; although as of 1998 Arnold, at this point recording for the Curb label, was still playing occasional show dates. He announced his retirement at his final concert at the Hotel Orleans in Las Vegas on May 16, 1999, the day after his 81st birthday; and in 2005 at age of 87 he released a new RCA album, After All These Years.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences inducted his recording of “Make the World Go Away” into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Recording Academy gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Arnold died at 5 a.m. on May 8, 2008, in Nashville, Tennessee; his wife Sally had preceded him in death on March 11. Both were survived by their children, "Dickie" Arnold (Jeannie) and Jo Ann Arnold Pollard (Richard), as well as two grandchildren Michelle Pollard Johns (Nelson) and Richard Shannon Pollard Jr.(Anissa) and four great-grandchildren (Michelle's)Katherine Pollard and Benjamin Johns,(Shannon's) Sophie and Rowan Pollard. ref> May 8, 2008 article on Arnold's death.

On May 31, 2008, just three weeks after his death, RCA Records released "To Life," a song from After All These Years. It debuted at #49 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, becoming Arnold's first chart entry in 25 years and marking the oldest person of any genre to chart on the Billboard charts.

It also set the record for the longest span between a first chart single and a last of 62 years and 11 months ("Each Minute Seems Like a Million Years" debuted on June 30, 1945), and extended Arnold's career chart history to seven decades.

Arnold has a star (for radio) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6775 Hollywood Blvd.

Reasons for success

From the beginning, Arnold stood out from his contemporaries in the world of country singers. He never wore gaudy, glittering outfits. He sang from his diaphragm, not through his nose and avoided honky-tonk themes, preferring songs that explored the intricacies of love.

Arnold also benefitted from his association with excellent musicians. The distinctive steel guitar of Roy Wiggins highlighted early recordings. Charles Grean, once employed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, played bass and wrote early arrangements, adding violins for the first time in 1956. Chet Atkins played on many of Arnold's records, even after he began serving as producer.

Bassist Bob Moore, the most recorded musician in history, first performed on the road with Arnold on the 1954 RCA Caravan and later performed on 75% of Arnold's hit recordings. Arnold also benefited from the management of Parker, who guided his first career, and Purcell, who masterminded the second.

The most important factor for Arnold's success, however, was his voice. Steve Sholes, who produced all of Arnold's early hits, called him a natural singer, comparing him to the likes of Bing Crosby and Enrico Caruso. Arnold worked hard perfecting his natural ability. A review of his musical career shows his progression from fledgling to polished performer.

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