… he died on May 8, 2008 at the age of 89.
Richard Edward Arnold known professionally as Eddy Arnold, was a “Nashville sound” innovator who began his career in the late 1950s. He scored 147 songs on the Billboard country music charts, second only to George Jones. By 1992, he had sold nearly 85 million records, and had a total of 145 weeks of No. 1 songs, more than any other singer.
A member of the Grand Ole Opry beginning in 1943, and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame since 1966. Arnold ranked 22nd on Country Music Television's 2003 list of "The 40 Greatest Men of Country Music." His career spanned six decades.
Arnold was born on a farm near Henderson, Tennessee. His father, a sharecropper, played the fiddle, while his mother played guitar. As a boy Arnold helped on the farm, which later gained him his nickname—the Tennessee Plowboy. Arnold attended Pinson High School where he played guitar for school functions and events. He quit before graduation to help with the farm work, but continued performing, often arriving on a mule with his guitar hung on his back. Arnold also worked part time as an assistant at a mortuary.
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When he was 16, Arnold made his musical debut on WTJS-AM in Jackson, Tennessee and was offered a job. He performed at local nightclubs and was a permanent performer for the station. During 1938, he was hired by WMPS-AM in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was one of its most popular performers. He soon quit for KWK-AM in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by a brief stint at WHAS-AM in Louisville, Kentucky.
He performed for WSM-AM on the Grand Ole Opry during 1943 as a solo artist. During 1944, Arnold signed a contract with the company RCA Victor, with manager Colonel Tom Parker, who later managed Elvis Presley. Arnold's first single did not chart, but his next one, "Each Minute Seems a Million Years,” scored No. 5 on the country charts in 1945. Arnold's next 57 singles all scored the Top Ten, including 19 number one scoring successes.
During 1946, Arnold scored his first major success with "That's How Much I Love You.” During 1948, he had five successful songs on the charts simultaneously. That year he had nine songs score the top 10; five of these scored No. 1 and scored #1 for 40 of the year's 52 weeks.
Arnold continued to dominate the charts, with 13 of the 20 best-scoring country music songs of 1947–1948. He became the host of Mutual Radio's Purina-sponsored segment of the Opry, and of Mutual’s Checkerboard Jamboree, a midday program shared with Ernest Tubb. Recorded radio programs increased Arnold’s popularity, as did the CBS Radio series Hometown Reunion with the Duke of Paducah.
Arnold quit the Opry during 1948, and his Hometown Reunion briefly broadcasted in competition with the Opry on Saturday nights. During 1949 and 1950, he performed in the Columbia movies Feudin’ Rhythm and Hoedown.
Arnold began working for television during the early 1950s, hosting The Eddy Arnold Show. The summer program was broadcasted by all three television networks, replacing the Perry Como and Dinah Shore programs. He also performed as a guest and a guest host on the ABC-TV show Ozark Jubilee from 1955–60. He also starred on Eddy Arnold Time from 1955 to 1957. From 1960 to 1961, he hosted NBC-TV's Today on the Farm.
During the 1950s, the popularity of rock and roll caused a decrease of Arnold's record sales. In 1955, Arnold annoyed many the country music “establishment” by recording with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra in New York. The popular-oriented arrangements of "The Cattle Call" and "The Richest Man (in the World),” however, helped to expand his appeal beyond its country music base.
This "new" musical style, pioneered by Jim Reeves and Arnold, became known as the "Nashville Sound.” Arnold’s new sound brought his music to a more diverse audience.
During 1965, he had one of his greatest successes with the song "Make the World Go Away.” With the Anita Kerr Singers as backup and accompanied by pianist Floyd Cramer,
Bill Walker's orchestra arrangements provided the lush background for 16 continuous successes sung by Arnold during the late 1960s.
Arnold performed with symphony orchestras in Carnegie Hall for two concerts, and in the Coconut Grove in Las Vegas.
In 1966, Arnold was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the youngest performer to receive the honor. The following year Arnold was voted the first-ever awarded Country Music Association's Entertainer Of The Year. Two years later, Arnold released an autobiography named It's A Long Way From Chester County.
During the 1980s, Arnold announced he was semi-retired; however, he continued recording. During 1984, the Academy of Country Music awarded Arnold its Pioneer Award. However, he then released no recordings for seven years.
His next album was released during 1991 as You Don't Miss A Thing. Arnold performed occasional road tours for several more years.
During 1996, when Arnold was 76 years old, RCA Records released an album of his main successes since 1944 as part of a series on singers. Arnold then retired from active singing, though he still performed occasionally.
In 1999 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences inducted the recording of "Make The World Go Away" into the Grammy Hall of Fame. During 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. During 2005, Arnold received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy, and later that year, released an album with RCA Records called After All These Years.
Eddy Arnold died of natural causes on May 8, 2008 in a nursing home in Nashville, exactly one week before his 90th birthday. His wife of 66 years, Sally Gayhart Arnold, had preceded him in death by two months.