It’s hoedown time today, as the immortal Roy Acuff aka the The Backwoods Sinatra takes his place in the spotlight. He was born today in 1903.
Country pioneer Roy Acuff was born in Maynardville, Tennessee, USA. “Name me a song that everybody knows, and I’ll bet you it belongs to Acuff-Rose.” The lyrics of alt-country god Jeff Tweedy reference the abiding influence of Acuff as a music publisher, but as a recording artist, he was one of the top sellers of the 1940s & ’50s.
Nicknamed”King of the Hillbillies” or “King of Country Music“, Roy had originally pinned his hopes of stardom on making it as a baseball player, only for illness to cause him to miss a coveted trial for the major leagues.
Learning to play the fiddle and taking up with a travelling medicine show then gave Acuff a grounding in both showbusiness and showmanship, experience that would shape his later life.
Appearing on a radio station in Tennessee, Roy’s fame began to spread as a result of his performances of “The Great Speckled Bird” and a debut performance of it on the Grand Ole Opry in 1938 would propel him to stardom, along with The Smoky Mountain Boys.
Other memorable tunes such as “ The Wabash Cannonball” and “Wreck on The Highway” then established Acuff as a national celebrity and kept him at the vanguard of country music, succeeding Jimmie Rodgers as its most influential stylist.
What started off as a profitable sideline in publishing his own songbook then led to the creation of what became a major publishing empire with fellow songwriter Fred Rose in 1942.
With his place in the country music hierarchy established and an unquestioned role as the godfather of the Grand Ole Opry, Roy continued to record and tour until shortly before his death in 1992.
Check out and purchase Roy Acuff CDs from our e-shop, Propermusic.com by clicking on the logo below:
And here’s some footage of Roy in action: