1930 - 1992
Born in Maynardville, Tennessee, on September 15, 1903, Roy Claxton Acuff was a gifted athlete who played semiprofessional baseball before a series of sunstrokes ended his career. During his nearly two year recuperation, he was prompted to practice and master the fiddle.
He performed in a medicine show before forming his own string band, the Tennessee Crackerjacks, (who were later renamed the Crazy Tennesseans and finally the Smoky Mountain Boys). Singer, fiddler and songwriter who reigned as the "King of Country Music" at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry (1938-92), Acuff's booming country tenor voice regaled listeners with such all-time favorite songs as `The Great Speckled Bird', his first and one of his biggest hits, and `Wabash Cannonball ', featuring his train-whistle imitation. Acuff's emotive, white-gospel singing style helped brand him a "hillbilly music" traditionalist.
He was a cofounder in 1942 with Fred Rose of the Acuff-Rose Publishing Co., the world's leading country-music publisher. In 1962, after selling more than 25 million records, Acuff was elected as the first living member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award in 1987 from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and of a National Medal of Art in 1991. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, on November. 23, 1992.