Roy Acuff Facts

by

Arden Lambert

Updated

September 3, 2022

Updated

September 3, 2022

Updated

September 3, 2022

American country music performer Roy Claxton Acuff also played the fiddle and sang and even wrote some of his songs. He changed the format of country music from being based on sting bands to an accepted singer-focused model. Often referred to as the “King of Country Music,” he started off playing baseball before deciding to pursue music in the 1930s.

He played fiddle and sang for the Smoky Mountain Boys, where he rose to prominence. But aside from Roy Acuff songs, there are some other things that are fascinating about him. 

Here they are, 8 Fascinating Facts about The King of Country Music, Roy Acuff.

1. His Parents Are Musicians

On September 15, 1903, in Maynardville, Tennessee, Roy Acuff was born to Ida and Simon E. Neil Acuff. His parents had five kids total, with him being the third. Both his mother and father were skilled pianists and Baptist preachers. Acuff learned to play the mouth harp and the harmonica because both of his parents were accomplished in the art of music.

Growing up, Acuff was athletic and participated in sports at the school. He received his education at Central High School, where he participated in sports, plays, and the school choir. He declined a scholarship from Carson-Newman University after receiving his diploma in 1925.

2. He Was a Snake Oil Peddler

Acuff began his career working for a snake oil peddler. Acuff was engaged in touring shows and was a total entertainer, according to author Jack Hurst’s 1975 book “Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.” There, Acuff got to know many of the musicians he would later collaborate with and have mastered the art of singing with no microphone needed.

3. He Performed at Medical Shows

As Roy Acuff recovered from his illness, he improved his fiddling technique. He became the southern Appalachian region’s performer for Dr. Hauer’s medical shows in 1932. During this time, he met banjo player Clarence Ashley, from whom he learned the folk tunes The House of the Rising Sun and Greenback Dollar, both of which were eventually recorded. After leaving the medical show in 1934, he joined other musicians in Knoxville for small concerts.

4. He Was a Constant Grand Ole Opry Performer

At the Grand Ole Opry, the famous worldwide epicenter of country music, legends, superstars, and upcoming talent, perform every week at Nashville, Tennessee. In 1938, Acuff and his group, the Crazy Tennesseans, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and were given a contract. He took a break in 1946, but he would remain there for the remainder of his life.

5. He Has Founded His Own Music Record

Acuff-Rose Music was founded in 1942 by Roy Acuff and lyricist Fred Rose. When they first began out, their main plan was to publish Acuff’s music. Eventually, they expanded to include other country music performers. Hank Williams was one of the artists the label signed. 

Due to the development of numerous other country music performers who had more youthful appeal, his popularity started to decline in the 1950s. His performance on the 1972 album Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band momentarily revitalized his career. 

6. Country Music Hall of Fame’s First-ever Alive Inductee

In 1961, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams became the first three individuals to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Before being inducted, they had all passed away. The next year, Acuff was inducted into the Hall of Fame, becoming the first living inductee.

7. He Ran For Governor of Tennessee in 1948

In 1948, Acuff accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for governor. Hurst claims that after Governor Prentice Cooper declined an invitation to the Opry, alleging that Acuff had turned Tennessee into the “hillbilly capital of the United States,” a Nashville writer suggested he run. Gordon Browning, the Democratic candidate who received 67 percent of the vote, defeated Acuff.

8. He Has a Statue

A statue of Maynardville, Tennessee native Roy Acuff along with his fiddle, can be found at The Ryman in Nashville, Tennessee. The statue is named “Oh, Roy” and depicts him just right next to Minnie Pearl.

His death shocked the country music community. But it did not stop Roy Acuff songs from being known and recognized even to this day. With his lifetime achievement award and the National Medal of Arts, Hall of Fame for Country Music, Hall of Fame Commemorative Medallion (1962), The Grammys Award for Lifetime Achievement, and many more earned him the title, The King Of Country Music. To this day, he still remains a legend. 


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