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Roy Acuff Biography

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roy acuff album cover

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

Image courtesy of Columbia Records

Born:

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

Died:

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.

Nicknames:

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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