When I finally put my guitar in the case the last time, I want to be remembered just as a singer, not as a country singer or pops singer – just a singer. -Eddy Arnold
From his debonair attire to the savvy one with which he adapted his sound to popular trends, Mr. Eddy Arnold personified the evolution of country music in the years after World War II, from a rural vernacular to an idiom with a broad mainstream appeal.
Mr. Arnold was a harbinger of the lush, orchestral Nashville Sound, made popular by the likes of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline in the late 1950s and ‘60s. His greatest success was on the country charts, where, taken together, his singles have spent more time — including more time in the top position — than those of any other singer in the music’s history.
One of the first country artists to work the Las Vegas scene, Arnold was also a pioneering country television performer. He appeared on the Milton Berle Show in 1949 and hosted summer replacement series in 1952 and 1953 for Perry Como and Dinah Shore, respectively. Eddy Arnold Time, a series made in Chicago, appeared in 1955, and The Eddy Arnold Show, shot in Springfield, Missouri, followed in 1956.
The song “Cattle Call” was Eddy Arnold’s signature song and it was chosen as one of the top Western songs of all time. The song dates back a long way in time. It was written in 1934 by songwriter Tex Owens.
He wrote the song in Kansas City while watching the snowfall. As the snow came down on the cattle, he was inspired to make a song.
Owens made the statement,
“Watching the snow, my sympathy went out to cattle everywhere, and I just wished I could call them all around me and break some corn over a wagon wheel and feed them. That’s when the words came to my mind. I picked up my guitar, and in thirty minutes I had wrote the music and four verses to the song,”
Arnold recorded the song in 1944. In 1955, Arnold re-recorded the song, this version spending 26 weeks on the country chart, 2 of the 26 at #1. He did another version with Leann Rimes in 2000 marking seven decades as a recording artist for Eddy Arnold.
Here’s a video of LeAnn Rimes and Eddy Arnold’s duet for “Cattle Call. Rimes was 13 years old back then. Enjoy watching!
Arnold’s Legacy Remains
In 1966, at age forty-eight, Arnold joined his co-stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame. He remains the youngest inductee ever to receive the honor. He won CMA’s coveted Entertainer of the Year Award in 1967. And in 1984 he received ACM’s Pioneer Award. Moreover, in 1970 RCA awarded him for reaching the 60 million mark in lifetime record sales, a number that reportedly topped 80 million by 1985. In 1993 RCA released the album Then and Now, marking Arnold’s fiftieth year with the label, an association interrupted only briefly from 1973 to 1975, when Arnold recorded with MGM.
Arnold continued to tour heavily during the seventies and beyond, and as of 1998 Arnold, by this point recording for the Curb label, was still playing occasional show dates. He announced his retirement from the stage on May 16, 1999, during a show at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences inducted Arnold’s recording of “Make the World Go Away” into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Recording Academy gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
Arnold began working professionally in his mid-’30s that his career spanned most of country music’s history as a commercial art form. Having contributed so much to make that history, Arnold and his wife, Sally Gayhart Arnold, donated their vast collection of materials documenting his career to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003.
Arnold died May 8, 2008, preceded in death by his wife, who died March 11, 2008.
Here at Country Daily, we cherish legends who introduced us to the real world of country music. More interesting countrified features to come! Keep in touch with us on our Facebook Page, Country Daily. Have a great day!