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Arnold, Eddy (originally Richard Edward)

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Arnold, Eddy (originally Richard Edward), American country singer, guitarist, and songwriter; b. near Henderson, Term., May 15, 1918. Arnold adapted Bing Crosby’s relaxed pop singing style to country music and achieved comparable success within his genre, reaching the country singles charts 145 times between 1945 and 1983, including 28 #1 hits. Thirty-two of his singles reached the pop charts. He was especially popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and again in the second half of the 1960s, when he became the chief performer of the string-filled, country-crossover style called the Nashville Sound. In his early days his biggest hits were “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” and “Bouquet of Roses.” The most successful recording of his latter-day career was “Make the World Go Away.”

Arnold was born on his parents’ farm, the son of William and Georgia Wright Arnold. Both his parents played musical instruments, his father the fiddle and his mother the guitar. He took up the guitar as a child and had a few lessons. When he was 16 he quit school to work on the farm. He got his professional start in music at 18, playing with a string band over a radio station in Jackson, Term. Starting in January 1938 he worked on the radio in St. Louis; there he took voice lessons. In January 1940 he joined Pee Wee King and His Golden West Cowboys, who toured extensively and appeared on the radio in Louisville and on The Grand Ole Opry on WSM in Nashville. He married Sally K. Gayhart on Nov. 28, 1941. They had two children.

Arnold left King in the spring of 1943 and got his own radio show on WSM; by 1944 he had a segment on The Grand Ole Opry by himself. He signed to RCA Victor Records in November 1943 but was unable to record until December 1944 due to the musicians’ union recording ban. In January 1945, RCA released his debut single, “Mommie Please Stay Home with Me” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Wallace Fowler, and J. Graydon Hall), on its Bluebird subsidiary. His second single, “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” (music and lyrics by Cook Watson), was his first to reach the country charts, in June 1945.

Arnold scored three more country hits in 1946, the most successful of which was “That’s How Much I Love You” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Wallace Fowler, and J. Graydon Hall); it was covered for a Top Ten pop hit for Frank Sinatra. Also in 1946, Arnold began hosting a half-hour weekly network radio show, Checkerboard Matinee . In January 1947 he added the Checkerboard Jamboree for 15 minutes a day, five days a week. The program ran until September 1950. Among his five country hits in 1947 were three chart-toppers: “What Is Life without Love” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Owen Bradley, and Vernice McAlpin); “It’s a Sin” (music and lyrics by Zeb Turner and Fred Rose); and the biggest hit of the year, “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Hal Hartón, and Tommy Dilbeck).

Arnold’s album All Time Hits from the Hills reached the pop-chart Top Ten in January 1948. Of his nine Top Ten country songs released in 1948, five hit #1: a revival of the 1921 song “Anytime” (music and lyrics byHerbert Happy Lawson); the million-selling “Bouquet of Roses” (music and lyrics by Steve Nelson and Bob Hilliard); “Texarkana Baby” (music and lyrics by Cottonseed Clark and Fred Rose); “Just a Little Lovin’ (Will Go a Long, Long Way)” (music and lyrics by Zeke Clements and Eddy Arnold); and “A Heart Full of Love (For a Handful of Kisses)” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Steve Nelson, and Ray Soehnel).

In September 1948 Arnold left The Grand Ole Opry and later in the year launched the Hoedown Reunion radio show as competition. The show ran for a year. He released another 11 Top Ten country hits in 1949, four of which hit #1: “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle” (music and lyrics by Jenny Lou Carson); “One Kiss Too Many” (music and lyrics by Steve Nelson, Ed Nelson Jr., and Eddy Arnold); “I’m Throwing Rice (at the Girl I Love)” (music and lyrics by Steve Nelson, Ed Nelson Jr., and Eddy Arnold); and “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me” (music and lyrics by Cindy Walker). During 1949 he also reached the Top Ten of the pop album charts with the three-disc set To Mother; made his network television debut on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater; and acted in his first film, Feudiri Rhythm (1950).

Arnold again reached the Top Ten of the pop album charts in early 1950 with Eddy Arnold Sings, and he made his second and final film appearance in June in Hoedown . He placed seven songs in the country Top Ten during the year, and another seven in 1951, among them the #1 hits “There’s Been a Change in Me” (music and lyrics by Cy Coben), a revival of the 1946 song “Kentucky Waltz” (music and lyrics by Bill Monroe), and “I Wanna Play House with You” (music and lyrics by Cy Coben). There were six Top Ten country hits in 1952, among them the chart-toppers “Easy on the Eyes” (music and lyrics by Cy Coben and Eddy Arnold) and “A Full Time Job” (music and lyrics by Gerry Teifer).

In July and August 1952, Arnold hosted a 15-minute, three-times-a-week network television program, The Eddy Arnold Show, as a summer replacement for Perry Como. The show returned from July to October 1953, this time as a twice-a-week replacement for Dinah Shore. From January 1955 to the end of 1957, Arnold did a show for syndication under the title Eddy Arnold Time, also returning to a national network on a weekly half-hour basis from April to September 1956. He hosted a documentary network television series, Out on the Farm, on Sunday afternoons from July to November 1954, and returned to doing a radio series from 1952 to 1953 and from July to September 1956.

While his radio and television activities, along with his personal appearances, did not prevent him from recording a handful of Top Ten country hits each year during the middle 1950s, Arnold began to hit #1 less frequently. His chart-toppers included “Eddy’s Song” (music and lyrics by Charles R. Grean and Cy Coben) in January 1953; “I Really Don’t Want to Know” (music by Don Robertson, lyrics by Howard Barnes) in May 1954; and a revival of the 1934 song “The Cattle Call” (music and lyrics by Tex Owens) and “That Do Make It Nice” (music and lyrics by Eddy Arnold, Fred Ebb, and Paul Klein), both in October 1955. “You Don’t Know Me” (music and lyrics by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold), which he recorded for a Top Ten country hit in September 1956, turned out to be an unusually valuable copyright for him; it was covered and revived by many artists, reaching the pop Top Ten for Ray Charles in 1962 and the top of the country charts for Mickey Gilley in 1981. Arnold’s next Top Ten country hit was “Tennessee Stud” (music and lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood) in June 1959. It earned him his first Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Performance.

Arnold hosted another farming series, Today on the Farm, on network television Saturday mornings during the 1960-61 season. He released four Top Ten country hits in 1962 and three in 1964. Then in 1965 he scored a major comeback on records employing a more pop-oriented, middle-of-the-road style dubbed “country-politan” or the Nashville Sound. His breakthrough hit was “What’s He Doing in My World” (music and lyrics by Carl Belew, Eddie Bush, Barry Moore, W. S. Stevenson, and Betty J. Robinson), which reached #1 on the country charts in June 1965, followed by the first of nine consecutive #1 country LPs, The Easy Way, in August.

In September 1965 he released the album My World, containing both “What’s He Doing in My World” and a new single, “Make the World Go Away” (music and lyrics by Hank Cochran). It brought him unprecedented success: the LP went gold, becoming the biggest-selling country album of the year and a Top Ten pop album, and earning Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Country & Western Album; “Make the World Go Away” topped the country and easy-listening charts and became his only Top Ten single on the pop charts, earning Grammy nominations for Best Country & Western Single and Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male.

In 1966, Arnold released four Top Ten country singles, two of which topped the charts, and three #1 country albums. “I Want to Go with You” (music and lyrics by Hank Cochran) hit the top of the country and easy-listening charts in April, as did an album of the same name. The LP The Last Word in Lonesome, named for a Top Ten country single, hit #1 in September. And “Somebody Like Me” (music and lyrics by Wayne Carson) topped the country charts in November, followed by a Somebody Like Me album. Arnold enjoyed the same success in 1967: four Top Ten country singles, two at #1, and another three #1 country albums. “Lonely Again” (music and lyrics by Jean Chapel) topped the charts in April, along with an identically titled album. A hits collection, The Best of Eddy Arnold, hit #1 in May and went gold. And “Turn the World Around” (music and lyrics by Ben Peters) reached the top of the country charts in October followed by a Turn the World Around LP in November.

These recordings also crossed over to the pop charts, and Arnold moved to expand his following beyond the country market. In October 1967 he made his Los Angeles nightclub debut at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel, and in February 1970 he first appeared in the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in N.Y. He became a frequent host on the network television variety series Kraft Music Hall, acting as master of ceremonies 17 times between 1968 and 1971 as well as introducing its “Country Fair” series from April to June 1968 and its 1970 Christmas special.

Arnold topped the country charts twice more in 1968: the LP The Everlovin’ World of Eddy Arnold hit #1 in April, and the single “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” (music and lyrics by John D. Loudermilk) in October. But his record sales fell off after the 1960s. He joined MGM Records in 1972, returning to RCA in 1976. He continued to reach the charts until 1983, then gave up recording for the rest of the decade while continuing to make personal appearances. In 1990 his work on a new album was interrupted by heart surgery, but he recovered and released Hand-Holdirí Songs in March 1990, followed in January 1991 by You Don’t Miss a Thing . In April 1993 came Then and Now: Last of the Love Song Singers, a double-CD set containing one disc of vintage recordings and one of new performances.

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