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Roy Acuff Biography


roy acuff album cover

Roy Acuff - 'Columbia Legacy Historic Edition' (1991)

Image courtesy of Columbia Records


Roy Claxton Acuff in Maynardsville, Tennessee, on September 15, 1903


November 23, 1992, Nashville Tennessee

Interesting Facts:

  • Roy Acuff turned to country music after failing to make the cut as a professional baseball player.
  • At the height of his fame, Acuff earned over $200,000 a year -- a considerable sum in the 1940s.
  • Acuff ran for governor of Tennessee in 1948, but lost to the Democratic candidate Gordon Browning.
  • With Fred Rose, he formed the Acuff-Rose Publishing Company. It became one of the most powerful and successful publishing companies in country music.
  • In 1962, he became the first person to be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame while still alive.


Over his career, Acuff earned the nicknames "King of Country Music," "King of the Hillbillies," "Backwoods Sinatra," and "Caruso of Mountain Music."

Bringing Rural Southern Music to the Mainstream:

Roy Acuff's weathered vocals and traditional songs brought the Southern folk tradition to the mainstream of country music. His hits "The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannonball" earned him a wide audience. It was music that, it seemed, you could make yourself at home. His long tenure on the Grand Ole Opry turned him into a national star. He played the fiddle.

Acuff Gets Nitty Gritty:

In 1972, Acuff participated in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's album Will the Circle Be Unbroken. The project brought him to the attention of a younger audience.

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