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Conway Twitty

Although born in Friars Point, Mississippi, 
on Sept. 1, 1933, Conway Twitty (nee' Harold 
Jenkins) grew up on the other side of the 
Mississippi River in Helena (Phillips County), 
Arkansas. He made his debut on Helena's famed 
KFFA radio station at age 12. In the 1940s, 
still known as Harold Jenkins, has had a country 
group called the Phillips County Ramblers, after 
his Arkansas home. This merged into a harder-
rocking group called the Rockhousers. Phillips 
County native Levon Helm recalled seeing Jenkins 
and the boys in places like West Helena's Delta 
Supper Club: "He had all the rockabilly moves -- 
the stutter, the twiches, the strut," Helm wrote 
in his 1994 autobiography. "Oh boy, were they 
good." In fact, Jenkins provided Helm, who gained 
fame performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers 
The Band, his stage debut at a Delta Supper Club 
performance. In 1955, Twitty cut demos for Sun 
Records in nearby Memphis under his newly-adopted 
moniker of Conway Twitty: Conway for Conway, 
Arkansas, and Twitty for Twitty, Texas. In 1957, 
he landed a small rockabilly hit, "I Need Your 
Lovin,'" which cracked the top 100. The next year, 
he had a #1 pop smash, "It's Only Make Believe," 
which he co-wrote. Nineteen-sixty yielded a top 10 
hit, "Lonely Boy Blue." A certified pop star, 
Twitty appeared in teenybopper film and on TV 
shows, but in a couple of years, the hits fizzled. 
He reorganized with a country band in 1964. Two 
years later, he signed with Decca. Two years after 
this, he had made it again to the top, scoring #1 
hits with "Next In Line and "I Love You More Today." 
In 1971, he first teamed with Loretta Lynn for 
the first of a long string of duet hits. By 1975, 
Conway Twitty had become an musician of such 
stature that a copy of "Privet Radost," his 
Russian-language version of "Hello Darlin,'" 
was presented by an American commander to his 
Russian counterpart during a joint space venture. 
In 1982, he opened up Twitty City, a nine-acre 
theme park. He also ventured into the fast food 
business with Twitty Burgers. And the country 
hits kept coming. But on June 5, 1993, they 
stopped. Twitty collapsed after a performance 
in Branson, Mo. He later died in a Springfield, 
Mo., hospital of a stomach hemmorage. In 1998, 
he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers 
Hall of Fame.

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