ROY ACUFF Biography - Musicians


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Name: Roy Acuff                                                                   
Born: 15 September 1903                                                           
Died: 23 November 1992                                                             
Roy Claxton Acuff (15 September 1903 - 23 November 1992) was an American country   
musician known around the world as the "King of Country Music".                   
He was born in Maynardville, Tennessee to Ida Carr and Simon E. Neil Acuff,       
the third of five children. He played semi-professional baseball, but a           
sunstroke in 1929 and a nervous breakdown in 1930 ended his aspirations to play   
for the New York Yankees.                                                         
He then turned his attention to his father's fiddle and began playing in a         
traveling medicine show, often performing in blackface. He toured the Southern     
United States and eventually formed a band called "The Crazy Tennesseans".         
In 1936, he recorded his two most enduring songs, the traditional The Great       
Speckled Bird and The Wabash Cannonball. He debuted at the Grand Ole Opry two     
years later. He was booked as a fiddler, and he should have played the Turkey     
Buzzard for a square dancin' segment, but he decided to try and sing The Great     
Speckled Bird. His decision was not well received, however. Acuff became a         
regular on the Opry, forming a backing band called the Smoky Mountain Boys, led   
by friend and Dobro player Bashful Brother Oswald. By 1940 he was the star of     
the show.                                                                         
Acuff's recording of The House of the Rising Sun on November 3, 1938 is the       
first known commercial recording of the song. He released several singles in the   
1940s such as The Wreck on the Highway, Beneath That Lonely Mound of Clay and     
The Precious Jewel. During the 1940s he also appeared in six movies.               
In 1942, a man of many talents, he formed a music publishing venture with         
Chicago songwriter Fred Rose. Acuff-Rose Music became a country music phenomenon, 
owning huge numbers of copyrights including those by Marty Robbins, Felice and     
Boudleaux Bryant and all of the songs of Hank Williams.                           
As his record sales declined in the late 40s and 50s, Acuff spent most of his     
time on the road, becoming one of the hottest tickets in country music. In 1962   
he was the first living musician elected to The Country Music Hall of Fame. By     
the 1970s Acuff performed almost exclusively with the Grand Ole Opry, at           
Opryland USA, greatly legitimizing it as the top institution in country music.     
He made one rare appearance at Carlton Haney's Camp Spring Bluegrass Festival in   
1971. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1991.                               
Acuff had a brief affair with politics, losing a run for the office of Governor   
of Tennessee as a Republican in 1944 and 1948. Acuff later campaigned in 1970     
for his friend Tex Ritter in his campaign for GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in