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Eddy Arnold R.I.P.

Country Standard Time Editorial, May 2008

The late Eddy Arnold, who died May 8 at 89, was one of country music's greatest stars ever. He sold 85 million records over the course of 6 decades of recording. The Tennessee Plowboy enjoyed his first hits for RCA in 1945 with "Each Minute Seems a Million Years" and had his final chart appearance his 146th on the Billboard charts - with a remake of one of his best known songs, "Cattle Call" with LeAnn Rimes, in 1999. But Arnold managed to even release an album of new music in 2005 a pretty decent album at an age when almost any singer would be permanently ready for the rocking chair. He is considered by Billboard to be the number one country artist of all time - higher than Cash, Jones and Haggard - based on the number of hits he enjoyed.

Arnold started off as a honky tonk crooner, fronting Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys. He had tremendous success in the late 1940s. In 1947, he had the number 1 song for 27 weeks, but managed to somehow exceed that by having the number 1 song for 40 weeks in 1948! The success continued well into the 1950s.

But he changed with the times as well. Rock was becoming more popular, and Arnold came under the influence of the RCA style formulated by Chet Atkins by going for far more of a pop sound. The honky tonker went smooth with his singing, sometimes with lush orchestration.

After almost retiring, Arnold's career took off again in the 1960's, such as "Make The World Go Away" and "Turn the World Around." Gone was the Plowboy nickname because Arnold doffed a tuxedo as his pop-oriented career flourished.

Perhaps what was most important about Arnold and doesn't this sound familiar about many country singers today? was that he contributed to broadening the appeal of country music and was an ambassador for the genre. Arnold musically changed with the times.

As Arnold himself said, "I'm a Heinz 57 singer. I sing many different kinds of songs, which mean something different to many different kinds of people." Arnold will be remembered as a huge hit maker, whose change of styles made for an enduring career.