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Eddy Arnold (1918-)

The most successful commercial artist in country music for the years immediately after World War II was Eddy Arnold. Arnold's success in country music sales centered on two eras: the period from 1945 to 1953, when he dominated country sales and even outsold most pop music artists in the live radio era; and from 1964 to 1970, when country music embraced the "Nashville Sound" and became the music of the middle class.

Richard Edward Arnold was born May 15, 1918, on a farm in Henderson in Chester County. He first appeared on radio in Jackson before moving to Memphis and St. Louis with fiddle player Speedy McNatt. In 1940 Arnold joined Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys in Nashville. From the end of 1941 to the end of 1942, the Golden West Cowboys appeared on the Camel Caravan to entertain U.S. military troops throughout the country.

At the beginning of 1943 Arnold went solo and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. He obtained a recording contract with Victor Records and in December 1944 became the first artist with a major label to record in Nashville. His first hit was "That's How Much I Love You" in 1946. It was followed by a number of other top selling hits including "Bouquet of Roses," "I'll Hold You In My Heart," and "Don't Rob Another Man's Castle." Beginning in November 1947, he hosted a Mutual network radio show. In September 1948 Arnold left the Opry. That same year he began a daily network noon show which opened with his signature song "Cattle Call" and dominated country music like no other artist has before or since, having the top chart record for fifty of the fifty-two weeks of 1948.

Arnold's next reign as a top-selling country act occurred in the mid-1960s with songs like "Make The World Go Away" and "What's He Doing In My World." During this period, he recorded with lush string sections and contributed to the middle-of-the-road sound that brought country music to American middle-class listeners.

Throughout his career, Eddy Arnold appeared on network shows, first on radio, then television. His popularity expanded the boundaries of country music, and he served as a bright, articulate spokesman for the industry. Arnold was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966, the same year he headlined a show at Carnegie Hall. He was the first Country Music Association "Entertainer of the Year" in 1967. In addition to his success as a country music artist, Eddy Arnold has been a successful businessman and community leader, active in developing and promoting Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010