Did you know that Conway Twitty was not his real name? Conway was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, named for the famous silent film star Harold Lloyd, in 1933 in Friars Point, Mississippi. Harold had his choice of several careers. He thought about being a minister and almost went that way, but decided there were things about the church he didn’t agree with. He played baseball as a kid and got good enough that the Philadelphia Phillies gave him an offer to come play with them. He might have done that except he got drafted.
While he was in the service, he formed a band and did some singing. When he came home, the Phillies renewed their offer, but he had seen a new vision and knew he wanted to be a singer. mainly a country singer, but it would be several years before that came true.. He moved to Memphis, hooked up with Sam Phillips of Sun Records and never looked back. The first thing he did was change his name. Harold Jenkins just didn’t have star power, so he changed it to Conway Twitty. Conway is named after the city Conway, Arkansas and Twitty is named after the city, Twitty, Texas.
After a few failed attempts, he was on the road one night and he and band mate Jack Nance wrote the song “It’s Only Make Believe.” He recorded it on MGM Records with the Jordanaires as his background singers. They are the guys that sang backup on every Elvis Presley song. The song was a number one hit here in the United States as well as in England. It set Conway Twitty on a journey which would make him one of the leading performers in the nation. He had several other pop hits, but never hit number one again on the pop charts. A fun fact which you may not know was that Conway was the model or the inspiration for the character Conrad Birdie in the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.
In 1966, he moved over to country, which was what he had always intended to do. He became one of the greatest country singers of our generation, placing an astounding 39 songs at number one on the country charts. Conway died in June of 1993 in Branson, Missouri of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was only 59 years old.
“It’s Only Make Believe” entered the chart on September 29, 1958 and stayed at number one for two weeks.
There’s a little junk at the end of this video, but I like to see the artist the way they looked when they recorded the song, so I put up with the junk. Hope you understand.
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