Roy Acuff
Singer, fiddler, promoter
Roy Acuff
Roy Claxton Acuff was an American country music singer, fiddler, and promoter. Known as the "King of Country Music," Acuff is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and "hoedown" format to the star singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful. Acuff began his music career in the 1930s, and gained regional fame as the singer and fiddler for his group, the Smoky Mountain Boys.
Biography
Roy Acuff's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Roy Acuff from around the web
Wilma Lee Cooper, Grand Ole Opry Singer, Dies at 90
NYTimes - over 5 years
Wilma Lee Cooper, a perennial favorite with the Grand Ole Opry and a member, with her husband, Stoney, of a popular tradition-steeped country singing duo, died on Tuesday at her home in Sweetwater, Tenn. She was 90. Her death was confirmed by Darlene Bieber, a spokeswoman for the Grand Ole Opry. Ms. Cooper was a repository of the durable mountain
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NYTimes article
The Ballinger Family Band and Friends Entertain at Prescott South - UC Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
Ethan Ballinger was jamming with Chet Atkins, John Harper, and Roy Acuff before the age of two. He started playing piano when he was eight, but his true passion for music blossomed when he started playing electric guitar at age ten
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Google News article
George Smith - Let me know if Hank played the Ritz . . . - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
I've also heard that the late Roy Acuff, one-time “King of Country Music,” once played Ohatchee High School. I have no memory of that one either. How about it . . . anybody out there with a sure answer? If so, let me know. *** BIRTHDAYS: Aug
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Google News article
2011 Broadcaster of the Year: Jay Burnham, Voice of the Trenton Thunder - Ballpark Digest
Google News - over 5 years
Also, let's not forget the recipients of past Ballpark Digest awards: Roy Acuff (Voice of the San Antonio Missions), Mike Capps (Voice of the Round Rock Express) and Paul Edmonds (Voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes). One more accomplishment to note: Jesse
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Google News article
Stellar Theater and Dance Performers to Visit APSU this Year as Acuff Chairs - Clarksville Online
Google News - over 5 years
The Second City performers are a big draw for this community, but they are only one of a handful of internationally renowned theater and dance performers visiting APSU this year as holders of the University's Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the
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Google News article
Stellar theatre, dance performers slated for APSU arts performances - Business Clarksville
Google News - over 5 years
The Second City performers are a big draw for this community, but they are only one of a handful of internationally renowned theater and dance performers visiting APSU this year as holders of the University's Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the
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Google News article
NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Hank Williams' Life After Death - CMT.com
Google News - over 5 years
He obviously wrote other songs in collaboration with his mentor, the great songwriter and producer Fred Rose, the co-founder with Roy Acuff of Acuff-Rose Publishing, Nashville's first publishing company and the anchor for Music City
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Google News article
Expanded, updated version of music section of 'Encyclopedia of Appalachia' now ... - The Republic
Google News - over 5 years
The free online section features nearly 200 entries, from Roy Acuff to the Zac Brown Band. The project is co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee Press and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Dozens of scholars contributed to the original version
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Google News article
Vince Gill Celebrates 20th Anniversary as Opry Member - The Boot
Google News - over 5 years
As the evening drew to a close, Vince said, "in the immortal words of Mr. Roy [Acuff], 'You better sing the one that brung ya'" then he sang the first song he ever performed on the Opry, 'When I Call Your Name.' Commemorating 20 years as a Grand Ole
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Google News article
Celebrate yesteryear with Friends of Dunbar Cave - Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
Roy Acuff bought the cave property in 1948 and staged his Saturday Night Radio Dance Broadcast from the site. Saturday, Friends of Dunbar Cave invites people to return to the cave for some good, old-fashioned entertainment. Cooling at the Cave,
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Google News article
Today in Music History - July 26 - mysask.com (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
In the 1950's, he played and danced with Roy Acuff's country band called "The Smoky Mountain Boys" and became one of the first black musicians to perform on the Grand Ole Opry show. In 1971, Lou Rawls won a Grammy award for "A Natural Man," written by
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Google News article
Blake Shelton Guides Backstage Tour of the Grand Ole Opry - Great American Country (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Some of the clips Blake will share include performances from Roy Acuff, Bill Anderson, Roy Clark, and Earl Scruggs plus a young Marty Stuart. Carrie Underwood will join the tour in the Opry's Green Room to discuss what goes on in the room known as the
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Google News article
Wife of Stringbean's killer says he deserves freedom - The Tennessean
Google News - over 5 years
Many of the Akemans' loved ones who spoke up in the past, like Opry legend Roy Acuff, have died. The couple had no children. John Brown, on the other hand, has garnered support over the years from people who include chaplains within the Lois DeBerry
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Google News article
Blake Shelton becomes video host for new Grand Ole Opry House backstage tour - NewsOK.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Among the vintage performance clips Shelton shares are Hall of Famers Roy Clark (who lives in Tulsa), Roy Acuff, Bill Anderson and Earl Scruggs, plus a young Marty Stuart. Shelton's fellow Opry member Underwood joins the video tour in the Opry's Green
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Google News article
Reviews of bluegrass music releases - Bellingham Herald
Google News - over 5 years
Songs include three Jim Eanes numbers - "Let Him Lead You," "Old Satan" and "Call Out To Jesus"; Roy Acuff's "Battle of Armageddon"; Sparks' "That Awful Day"; Keith Whitley's "Great High Mountain"; and the traditional "When I Lay My Burdens Down," "I
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Google News article
Peter Cooper: Baseball disruption begins 50 years of 'Opry' - The Tennessean (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
“It took me two or three seconds to tell him 'yes,' ” Anderson says, sitting in an office at the Grand Ole Opry House, where he serves as a regular performer and an ambassador, and where he spins a treasure trove of stories about Roy Acuff,
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Google News article
Ray Price is right for Mountainfest - The Province
Google News - over 5 years
Price had sung a bit as a kid, singing along with the radio playing Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff and the swinging Bob Wills. He'd even taken a few classical singing lessons but realized he just didn't have the stature or the big chest for opera
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Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Roy Acuff
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1992
    Age 88
    Roy Acuff died in Nashville on November 23, 1992 of congestive heart failure at the age of 89.
    More Details Hide Details Many of Acuff's songs show a strong religious influence, most notably "Great Speckled Bird", "The Prodigal Son" and "Lord, Build Me a Cabin". Such songs were typically set to a traditional Anglo-Celtic melody, which is most apparent on "Great Speckled Bird" and the 1940 recording "The Precious Jewel". Acuff performed popular songs of the day, including Pee Wee King's "Tennessee Waltz" and Dorsey Dixon's "I Didn't Hear Nobody Pray", the latter of which he appropriated and renamed "Wreck on the Highway". He also recorded a version of Cajun fiddler Harry Choates' "Jole Blon". Traditional recordings included "Greenback Dollar", which he probably learned from Clarence Ashley while on the medicine show circuit, and "Lonesome Old River Blues", which he recorded with the Smoky Mountain Boys in the 1940s. Acuff and the Crazy Tennesseans recorded "Wabash Cannonball"—another traditional song—in 1936, although Acuff did not provide the vocals on this early recording. The better-known version of the song with Acuff providing the vocals was recorded in 1947.
  • 1991
    Age 87
    In 1991, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, and given a lifetime achievement award by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the first Country music act to receive the esteemed honor.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1974
    Age 70
    The appearance paved the way for one of the defining moments of Acuff's career, which came on the night of March 16, 1974, when the Opry officially moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland.
    More Details Hide Details The first show at the new venue opened with a huge projection of a late-1930s image of Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys onto a large screen above the stage. A recording from one of the band's 1939 appearances was played over the sound system, with the iconic voice of George Hay introducing the band, followed by the band's performance of "Wabash Cannonball". That same night, Acuff showed President Richard Nixon, an honored guest at the event, how to yo-yo, and convinced the president to play several songs on the piano. In the early 1980s, after the death of his wife, Mildred, Acuff, then in his 80s, moved into a small house on the Opryland grounds and continued performing daily on stage. He arrived early most days at the Opry before the shows and performed odd jobs, such as stocking soda in backstage refrigerators.
  • 1972
    Age 68
    In 1972, Acuff's career received a brief resurgence in the folk revival movement after he appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1965
    Age 61
    After nearly losing his life in an automobile accident outside of Sparta, Tennessee, in 1965, Acuff pondered retiring, making only token appearances on the Opry stage and similar shows, and occasionally performing duos with long-time bandmate Bashful Brother Oswald.
    More Details Hide Details
  • FORTIES
  • 1948
    Age 44
    While Acuff initially did not take the suggestion seriously, he did accept the Republican Party nomination for governor in 1948.
    More Details Hide Details Acuff's nomination caused great concern for E.H. Crump, the head of a Memphis Democratic Party political machine that had dominated Tennessee state politics for nearly a quarter-century. Crump was not worried so much about losing the governor's office—in spite of Acuff's name recognition—but did worry that Acuff would draw large crowds to Republican rallies and bolster other statewide candidates. While Acuff did relatively well and helped reinvigorate Tennessee's Republicans, his opponent, Gordon Browning, still won with 67 percent of the vote. After leaving the Opry, Acuff spent several years touring the Western United States, although demand for his appearances dwindled with the lack of national exposure and the rise of musicians such as Ernest Tubb and Eddy Arnold, who were more popular with younger audiences. He eventually returned to the Opry, although by the 1960s, his record sales had dropped off considerably.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1943
    Age 39
    In 1943, Acuff was initiated into the East Nashville Freemasonic Lodge in Tennessee, to which he would remain a lifelong member.
    More Details Hide Details Later that same year, Acuff invited Tennessee Governor Prentice Cooper to be the guest of honor at a gala held to mark the nationwide premier of the Opry's Prince Albert show. Cooper rejected the offer, however, and lambasted Acuff and his "disgraceful" music for making Tennessee the "hillbilly capital of the United States." A Nashville journalist reported the governor's comments to Acuff, and suggested Acuff run for governor himself.
  • 1942
    Age 38
    In 1942, Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose (1897–1954) formed Acuff-Rose Music.
    More Details Hide Details Acuff originally sought the company in order to publish his own music, but soon realized there was a high demand from other country artists, many of whom had been exploited by larger publishing firms. Due in large part to Rose's ASCAP connections and gifted ability as a talent scout, Acuff-Rose quickly became the most important publishing company in country music. In 1946, the company signed Hank Williams, and in 1950 published their first major hit, Patti Page's rendition of "Tennessee Waltz".
  • 1940
    Age 36
    Acuff appeared in several subsequent B-movies, including O, My Darling Clementine (1943), in which Acuff plays a singing sheriff, Night Train to Memphis (1946), the title of which comes from a song Acuff recorded in 1940, and the 1949 movie, Home in San Antone, in which he starred with Lloyd Corrigan and William Frawley.
    More Details Hide Details Acuff and his band also joined Macon and other Opry acts at various tent shows held throughout the southeast in the early 1940s. The crowds at these shows were so large that roads leading into the venues were jammed with traffic for miles. Starting in 1939, Acuff hosted the Opry's Prince Albert segment, but left the show in 1946 after a dispute with management.
    In spring 1940, Acuff and his band traveled to Hollywood, where they appeared with Hay and Macon in the motion picture, Grand Ole Opry.
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  • 1939
    Age 35
    By 1939, Jess Easterday had switched to bass to replace Red Jones, and Acuff had added guitarist Lonnie "Pap" Wilson and banjoist Rachel Veach to fill out the band's line-up.
    More Details Hide Details Within a year, Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys rivaled long-time Opry banjoist Uncle Dave Macon as the troupe's most popular act.
  • 1936
    Age 32
    The popularity of Acuff's rendering of the song "The Great Speckled Bird" helped the group land a contract with the ARC, for whom they recorded several dozen tracks (including the band's best-known track, "Wabash Cannonball") in 1936. Needing to complete a 20-song commitment, the band recorded two ribald tunes—including "When Lulu's Gone"—but released them under the pseudonym of "the Bang Boys". The group split from ARC in 1937 over a separate contract dispute.
    More Details Hide Details In 1938, the Crazy Tennesseans moved to Nashville to audition for the Grand Ole Opry. Although their first audition went poorly, the band's second audition impressed Opry founder George D. Hay and producer Harry Stone, and they offered the group a contract later that year. On Hay and Stone's suggestion, Acuff changed the group's name to the "Smoky Mountain Boys," referring to the mountains near where Acuff and his bandmates grew up. Shortly after the band joined the Opry, Clell Summey left the group, and was replaced by dobro player Beecher (Pete) Kirby—best known by his stage name Bashful Brother Oswald—whom Acuff had met in a Knoxville bakery earlier that year. Acuff's powerful lead vocals and Kirby's dobro playing and high-pitched backing vocals gave the band its distinctive sound.
  • 1934
    Age 30
    In 1934, Acuff left the medicine show circuit and began playing at local shows with various musicians in the Knoxville area, where he had become a celebrity and fixture in local newspaper columns.
    More Details Hide Details That year, guitarist Jess Easterday and Hawaiian guitarist Clell Summey joined Acuff to form the Tennessee Crackerjacks, which performed regularly on Knoxville radio stations WROL and WNOX (the band moved back and forth between stations as Acuff bickered with their managers over pay). Within a year, the group had added bassist Red Jones and changed its name to the Crazy Tennesseans after being introduced as such by WROL announcer Alan Stout. Fans often remarked to Acuff how "clear" his voice was coming through over the radio, important in an era when singers were often drowned out by string band cacophony.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1932
    Age 28
    In 1932, Dr. Hauer's medicine show, which toured the Southern Appalachian region, hired Acuff as one of its entertainers.
    More Details Hide Details The purpose of the entertainers was to draw a large crowd to whom Hauer could sell medicines (of suspect quality) for various ailments. While on the medicine show circuit, Acuff met legendary Appalachian banjoist Clarence Ashley, from whom he learned "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Greenback Dollar", both of which Acuff later recorded. As the medicine show lacked microphones, Acuff learned to sing loud enough to be heard above the din, a skill that would later help him stand out on early radio broadcasts.
  • 1930
    Age 26
    The effects left him ill for several years, and he even suffered a nervous breakdown in 1930. "I couldn't stand any sunshine at all," he later recalled.
    More Details Hide Details While recovering, Acuff began to hone his fiddle skills, often playing on the family's front porch in late afternoons after the sun went down. His father gave him several records of regionally-renowned fiddlers, such as Fiddlin' John Carson and Gid Tanner, which were important influences on his early style.
  • 1929
    Age 25
    In 1929, Acuff tried out for the Knoxville Smokies, a minor-league baseball team then affiliated with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants.
    More Details Hide Details A series of collapses in spring training following a sunstroke, however, ended his baseball career prematurely.
  • 1925
    Age 21
    He was a three-sport standout at Central, and after graduating in 1925, he was offered a scholarship to Carson-Newman, but turned it down.
    More Details Hide Details He played with several small baseball clubs around Knoxville, worked at odd jobs, and occasionally boxed.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1919
    Age 15
    In 1919, the Acuff family relocated to Fountain City (now a suburb of Knoxville), a few miles south of Maynardville.
    More Details Hide Details Roy attended Central High School, where he sang in the school chapel's choir and performed in "every play they had." Roy's primary passion, however, was athletics.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1903
    Born
    Roy Acuff was born on September 15, 1903 in Maynardville, Tennessee to Ida (née Carr) and Simon E. Neill Acuff, the third of five children.
    More Details Hide Details The Acuffs were a fairly prominent Union County family. Roy's paternal grandfather, Coram Acuff, had been a Tennessee state senator, and Roy's maternal grandfather was a local physician. Roy's father was an accomplished fiddler and a Baptist preacher, his mother was proficient on the piano, and during Roy's early years the Acuff house was a popular place for local gatherings. At such gatherings, Roy would often amuse people by balancing farm tools on his chin. He also learned to play harmonica and jaw harp at a young age.
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