Saturday, June 4, 2011

Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty

I know ! I know ! You don't think the Country Super Star should be in this rock and roll blog. Well here is my defense. Conway Twitty was a part of rock and roll history. He had sufficient hits for me to be unable to write him off as a one hit wonder. He is not considered an important outside influence as many others who are left out might be.

Conway Twitty was a big time rock and roller when I was a kid. He had lots of rock and roll hits and was influential among other rockers. Conway Twitty was a rock and roll pioneer, especially to me. He's in.

Conway Twitty and Mamie Van Doren

Now here is a story I hope will confirm my personal knowledge of Conway as a rock and roll big timer.

It was Christmas in our southern hill country and it was 1960. My buddy and I were home from Military School in Tennessee. We had not seen our home town, friends or family since August or September. I was 15 by less than a month. My pal, Mack, was 16 or barely 17. Came the first Saturday night of our home stay and Mack invited me to ride down to Newport, our neighboring "wet" town, to see Conway Twitty at the big beer joint known as The Silver Moon.

A Young ConwayTwitty

I thought well this is the big time. Hanging with high school seniors, in a beer joint, listening to a rock and roll teen idol. What could be better for a young man home on prep school Christmas leave. (A hell of a lot) When I say teen idol I'm serious. The man who is thought of as a country super star had never recorded a country song. His entire short career at that point was strictly rock and roll.

Conway Twitty

Conway's recordings as of 1960, consisted of a #93 in 1957 for his first chart recording I Need Your Loving. He had a #1 hit in 1958 with "It's Only Make Believe". In 1959 he had three rock hits with a #29 for Mona Lisa, a #10 for Danny Boy, and a #6 for Lonely Blue Boy. During the year of our Christmas "experience" 1960 Conway hit the charts with a #26 for What Am I Living For, a #98 for She's Mine and a #22 for C'est Si Bon. The following year, 1961, his rock and roll world began to crash. He had two hits on the charts both scoring far lower than his former high flying records. One was a 72 and the other in the 90's.

Conway Twitty

From 1957 to 1961 he charted 12 rock and roll records. Of those 12 he had 7 Top 40's, 2 Top 10's and one Number 1 hit.

Conway was not stupid. He could read the music business like few before or after him. From 1962 through 1965, Conway did not chart anything. He was not ready to accept defeat nor get out of the music business. He came from country roots, so in 1965, it was a natural to switch over to Country and Western. It took a couple of years to get the country dj's to accept this rock and roller. By 1968 he had worked his way to the top of the C & W heap. The rest is record setting sales. His sales have been eclipsed by one artist, and only one, George Strait.

Conway Twitty

C & W sales summation:  From 66 until 93 he charted:

    93 Top 100,  84  Top 40's,  74 Top 10's, 

    66 Top 5's  and 

                 Forty     (40)        #1 

          Country and Western Records

That's right 40 Number ONE  C & W hits. So no matter how good or cool you might think you or your music choices might be, you have to give the man credit for succeeding.

Conway Twitty a Rockabilly Rockin Son of a Gun !

Our trip to The Silver Moon Club ? It happened. I saw Conway rock his butt off. He had a hell of a band. Everybody was dancing. I think I'll leave the rest of it a mystery since I now have grandsons of the same age. I don't think they would be caught dead reading about old stuff like this but you never know.

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         CM          Delta         Rockabilly

He won a couple of Grammy's but I don't seem to be able to find a link to Conway. Sorry.

Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn

To finish the argument that Conway Twitty was first a rocker, just let me say, during the Christmas period of 1960, I don't think Conway or any of us had a clue he was or ever would be anything other than a rock and roller. Another good Arkansas rocker gone off to make music. End of story.

1 comment:

  1. Conway Twitty was also the first artist to ever cut a track by songwriter Dan Penn, a rockabilly-ish track called "Is A Bluebird Blue", cut while Dan was still in high school. Dan Penn went on to write many hits, and amongst folks that have recorded his songs since include Aretha Franklin, the Box Tops, Elvis Costello, Joe Cocker, Irma Thomas, Jerry Garcia, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett, Ry Cooder, Elton John, Etta James, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others.