Conway Twitty is one of the most successful and dearly loved country artists of all time. With hits like “Hello Darlin'” and “Love to Lay You Down,” Twitty has won over the hearts of country fans far and wide. So it was no longer a surprise when the country music community was devastated with is passing in 1993.
Although we mourn the loss of a great talent, we also celebrated Twitty’s extraordinary life. The country icon’s life was nothing short of interesting, that’s for sure. In fact, there are few things about Conway Twitty that you may not have known before!
These ten things are only some of them.
1. His Real Name Wasn’t Really Conway
Conway Twitty was born in Mississippi on September 1, 1933, as Harold Lloyd Jenkins. He was named after the silent film actor Harold Lloyd by his Great Uncle.
When it came time for Twitty to choose a stage name, he stayed away from his birth name for something catchy. The “Tight Fittin’ Jeans” singer is said to have seen Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas, on a map, choosing the name Conway Twitty. Well, it totally worked.
2. He Used To Have His Own Radio Show As A Kid
Conway got his start in music at an early age. When he was 12 years old, he was invited to have his own radio show on local station KFFA Radio. After being taught how to play the guitar by his grandfather and a neighborhood blues singer, the radio show became the perfect outlet for Twitty to develop his talents.
3. He Once Recorded Hello Darlin’ in Russian
Hello Darlin’ is one of the best Conway Twitty songs, and it is totally legendary.
He recorded the song in Russian and was commissioned for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint space flight between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1975, the recording was played by the American astronauts on board the Apollo module to Russian cosmonauts flying in Soyuz 19.
The Russian version was meant to be seen as a gesture of peace and goodwill toward the Russians after years of strained relations. “That song was played in Russian all around the world. I don’t know how many millions of people heard it–the only time anything like that had ever happened! It was a tremendous experience,” Twitty said.
4. Some Of His Songs Were Banned From Radio Stations
When Conway Twitty released his song “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” in 1973, some radio stations refused to play it. Several radio stations banned the song after they received feedback from outraged listeners. Even then, the song still went on to become a No. 1 hit.
5. He was part of the inspiration for the titular character in the Broadway musical “Bye, Bye Birdie”
Conrad Birdie, the super sexy ’50s star who turned a small town on its head into musical, was a combination of Conway Twitty and Elvis Presley. The rock star character’s name, “Conrad Birdie,” is even a wordplay of Conway Twitty’s name.
6. He Was Baseball Player Too
Conway Twitty received an offer from the Philadelphia Phillies after high school, but he was drafted before he could even sign the contract. Though that doesn’t mean he stopped loving baseball. He was one of the investors in the Nashville Sounds, Nashville’s minor league baseball team, and would host celebrity softball games for charity.
7. He Was Like A Brother to Loretta Lynn
Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn were one of the most famous musical pairs in country music history. The two recorded ten studio albums together and have several hits like “After The Fire Is Gone,” “Lead Me On,” and so much more.
Recently, Lynn turned to Instagram to pay tribute to Twitty, remembering him on the anniversary of his death this year. “He was one of the best men I have ever known,” Lynn wrote along with a slideshow of photos.
She added, “He was like a brother to me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better singing partner.”
8. He Owned A Big Tourist Attraction Called Twitty City
The country legend opened the country music entertainment complex Twitty City in the early ’80s, which can be found in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The Twitty City was a beloved tourist attraction until it closed in 1994.
9. Hendersonville City Has Named A Road In His Honor
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since Conway Twitty called Hendersonville home, and those who remember the impact of the country legend on the city hope to honor his legacy by naming a road after him, the Conway Twitty Lane.
“There’s no more fitting place to honor Conway because if he wasn’t at home or on the road, he was at the park,” Hendersonville Alderman Scott Sprouse said.
10. He’s a Hall of Famer Twice
When you’re someone who holds the record for being the country singer with the most No. 1 country song topping the chart until 2007 – he has fifty-five to be exact – then there’s no doubt that you’re going to be in a hall of fame. The “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” singer is in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.