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Harold Jenkins was born in Friars Point, Mississippi on September 1, 1933. His father was a pilot on a Mississippi riverboat. He learned to play the guitar on the riverboat at a young age and by the age of twelve he was performing on a radio station in Helena, Arkansas. At this time he considered music his hobby and dreamed of a career in pro baseball. He was actually recruited by the Philadelphia Phillies but before he could sign on he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
After he was released from the service in 1956, he signed with Mercury Records and his producer urged him to get a catchier name. He did not want to change his name at first because he wanted the people from his home town to see that Harold Jenkins had made it. Looking at a map, he came up with the name Conway Twitty from Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas.
After recording only six records with the Mercury label, Twitty signed a contract with MGM Records, where he stayed until 1963. He put together a new band that included drummer Jack Nance. With Nance he wrote "It's Only Make Believe" which soared to #1 on the pop music charts in 1958 and launched his career. He continued to record pop ballads during the mid 1960s before turning to country music. Twitty's first country hit was "Next In Line" in 1968. (Most of his country hits were on the Decca label.)
During the 1970s he dominated country charts because of several successful duos with Loretta Lynn. Their biggest single hit was "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man." Together they recorded three gold albums during the 1970s. The pair was awarded a 1971 Grammy for Best Performance by a Country Group or Duo. Twitty was nominated for 22 country music awards, but his only win was this award with Loretta Lynn. Twitty's work with Loretta Lynn did much to establish his credibility as a country star. Between 1968 and 1977 Twitty cut thirty successive number one singles, including "I Can't Stop Lovin' You" in 1972, "Touch the Hand" in 1975, "Linda On My Mind" in 1975, and "The Games That Daddies Play" in 1976. The album "Hello Darlin'" was certified Gold in 1970.
In 1979 Twitty changed his image by cutting his sideburns and slicked back hair. Many felt his new look, with tight curls in his hair, made him look younger. In any event, his career continued to soar. In 1983, Twitty became the first country music star to open his home to fans when the $3 million Twitty City opened in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In keeping with his love of baseball, he owned the minor league team, the Nashville Sounds.
Shortly after a 1993 concert in Branson, Missouri, Twitty suffered an abdominal aneurysm and was rushed to a Branson hospital, where, ironically, Loretta Lynn was at the bedside of her hospitalized husband. She was at Twitty's side when he died on June 5, 1993. There was much legal wrangling among his family over his assets. Twitty City was closed. In December, 1999, the Tennessee State Supreme Court ruled the splitting of his assets between his four children and Dee Henry, his wife at his death, with a life insurance benefit awarded to Temple Medley, his former wife of thirty years and the mother of his children.