Eddy Arnold holds the distinction of being the only singer to achieve Billboard chart hits in seven separate decades. Long before today's country pop revolution, Arnold became the original country crossover, bringing the country sound into the mainstream of popular American music.
Arnold was born on May 15, 1918 in Henderson, Tennessee. During his childhood, he suffered through the death of his father and the loss of the family farm. When he turned 18, he left home to make his mark in the music world. Arnold's formative musical years included early struggles to gain recognition until he landed a job as the lead male vocalist for the Pee Wee King Band. By 1943 Arnold was a solo star on the Grand Ole Opry. He was signed by RCA and in December of 1944 cut his first record. Although all of his early records sold well, his big hit did not come until 1946 with "That's How Much I Love You."
Managed by Col. Tom Parker, who later went on to manage the career of Elvis Presley, Arnold began to dominate country music. In 1947-48 he had 13 of the top 20 songs. In 1955 Arnold upset many in the country music establishment by going to New York to record with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra. The pop-oriented arrangements of "Cattle Call" and "The Richest Man (In the World)" expanded Arnold's appeal and made country music a mainstay of popular American music.
With the advent of Rock and Roll, Arnold's record sales dipped in the late 1950s, but after Jerry Purcell became his manager in 1964, Arnold embarked on a "second career" that surpassed the success of the first one and, in the process, realized his dream of carrying his music to a more diverse audience. Having already been recorded by several other artists, "Make the World Go Away" was just another song until it received the Arnold touch. Under the direction of producer Chet Atkins, and showcased by Bill Walker's arrangement, and the talents of the Anita Kerr Singers and pianist Floyd Cramer, Arnold's soaring rendition of "Make The World Go Away" became an international hit. Bill Walker's precise, intricate arrangements of the Nashville sound musicians provided the lush background for 16 straight Arnold hits through the late 1960s, and Arnold started performing with symphony orchestras in virtually every major city.
Arnold differed from many country singers of his time. He sang from his diaphragm, not through his nose. He avoided honky-tonk themes and preferred to sing songs that explored the intricacies of love. Steve Sholes, who produced all of Arnold's early hits, called Arnold a natural singer, comparing him to the likes of Bing Crosby and Caruso. Arnold's 60-year-long career has earned him induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.