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Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Mississippi on 1 September 1933. His father was in charge of a Mississippi ferryboat on which he taught his son to play guitar.

He proved an eager student and by the age of 10 was appearing on local radio. Two years later he formed his own band – The Phillips Country Ramblers.

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His great love as a boy was baseball and he was on the verge of being signed up by the Philadelphia baseball team when he was summoned for National Service with the Army.

Two years in uniform saw him playing with another group (of fellow serviceman) called The Cimmarons, who regularly performed on radio in Tokyo – the city to which he was posted.

Demobilised and back home in America, he formed yet another band and toured the States singing Rock & Roll, and soon became a big radio star.

His manager, Don Seat (who he met in the Army) helped to organise a recording contract with Mercury in 1957, and his first record success was I Need Your Loving.

A year later he signed to MGM with whom he recorded his multi-million-selling international chart-topper It’s Only Make Believe – which legend has it, he wrote in five minutes flat.

Conway Twitty was now an emerging star, busy with radio, television and film appearances – in such movies as Sexpot Goes To College and College Confidential.

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He recorded more singles, including Story Of My LoveMona LisaIs A Blue Bird Blue?C’est Si Bon and Lonely Boy Blue (his second million-seller).

His stage name was chosen by his agent – with ‘Conway’ being found on a roadmap in Arkansas and ‘Twitty’ coming from the Texan town.

As his Rock & Roll audiences faded in the early 60s, Conway turned to his first love – Country music. He moved to Oklahoma City in 1965 and appeared with the group The Lonely Blue Boys (named after his hit single) and later appeared on his own TV series, The Conway Twitty Show.

Not long afterwards he settled in Nashville and started recording country songs. In a ten-year period from 1968 to 1978, he scored with no less than 33 #1 hits on the US country charts.

And his country metamorphosis was complete during the 1970s when, after teaming up with Loretta Lynn as a duo to make many singles and albums together, the twosome received the coveted CMA Vocal Duo Of The Year award on several occasions starting in 1972.

Twitty died on 5 June 1993 from a ruptured blood vessel in his stomach. He was 59.