Roy Claxton Acuff was an American country music singer, fiddler, and promoter.
29 Facts About Roy Acuff
Roy Acuff began his music career in the 1930s and gained regional fame as the singer and fiddler for his group, the Smoky Mountain Boys.
Roy Acuff joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and although his popularity as a musician waned in the late 1940s, he remained one of the Opry's key figures and promoters for nearly four decades.
In 1962, Roy Acuff became the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Roy Acuff is of Scottish ancestry, and his ancestors came to North America during the colonial era, settling in the mountains of Virginia and the Carolinas.
Roy's father was an accomplished fiddler and a Baptist preacher, his mother was proficient on the piano, and during Roy's early years the Acuff house was a popular place for local gatherings.
Roy Acuff learned to play the harmonica and jaw harp at an early age.
In 1919, the Roy Acuff family relocated to Fountain City, a few miles south of Maynardville.
Roy Acuff was a three-sport standout at Central, and after graduating in 1925, was offered a scholarship to Carson-Newman University, but turned it down.
Roy Acuff played with several small baseball clubs around Knoxville, worked at odd jobs, and occasionally boxed.
In 1929, Roy Acuff tried out for the Knoxville Smokies, a minor-league baseball team then affiliated with the New York Giants.
Roy Acuff's father gave him several records of regionally renowned fiddlers, such as Fiddlin' John Carson and Gid Tanner, which were important influences on his early style.
In 1934, Roy Acuff left the medicine show circuit and began playing at local shows with various musicians in the Knoxville area, where he had become a celebrity and fixture in local newspaper columns.
The popularity of Roy Acuff's rendering of the song "The Great Speckled Bird" helped the group land a contract with American Record Corporation, for which they recorded several dozen tracks in 1936.
On Hay and Stone's suggestion, Roy Acuff changed the group's name to the Smoky Mountain Boys, referring to the mountains near where his bandmates and he grew up.
Roy Acuff appeared in several subsequent B movies, including O, My Darling Clementine, in which he played a singing sheriff; Night Train to Memphis, the title of which comes from a song Roy Acuff recorded in 1940; and Home in San Antone, in which he starred with Lloyd Corrigan and William Frawley.
Roy Acuff left the show in 1946 after a dispute with management.
Roy Acuff originally sought the company to publish his own music, but soon realized that demand from other country artists existed, many of whom had been exploited by larger publishing firms.
In 1943, Roy Acuff was initiated into the East Nashville Freemasonic Lodge in Tennessee, of which he would remain a lifelong member.
Later that same year, Roy Acuff invited Tennessee Governor Prentice Cooper to be the guest of honor at a gala held to mark the nationwide premiere of the Opry's Prince Albert show.
Roy Acuff eventually returned to the Opry, although by the 1960s, his record sales had dropped off considerably.
In 1972, Roy Acuff's career received a brief resurgence in the folk-revival movement after he appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.
That same night, Roy Acuff showed President Richard Nixon, an honored guest at the event, how to yo-yo, and convinced the president to play several songs on the piano.
Roy Acuff arrived early most days at the Opry before the shows and performed odd jobs, such as stocking soda in backstage refrigerators.
Roy Acuff died at the Baptist Hospital in Nashville on November 23,1992, of congestive heart failure at the age of 89.
Roy Acuff is buried in the Hillcrest section of Spring Hill Cemetery on Gallatin Road in Nashville.
The better-known version of the song with Roy Acuff providing the vocals was recorded in 1947.
Roy Acuff has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1541 Vine Street.
Roy Acuff is pictured with other country singers at the new Smoky Mountain Opera in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.