Sunday, May 27, 2007

Eddy Arnold

Category: Opinion

Eddy Arnold was the guest of honor at the 24th annual International Country Music Conference (ICMC) in Nashville. The keynote subject of the conference was the 50th anniversary of RCA's legendary Studio B. Mr. Arnold, who just turned 89 on May 15, spoke of his success, which he admitted he was totally unaware of because of the fact he was busy touring and making records. When he went to New York in the early 1950s, the RCA Victor president called Mr. Arnold to his office. "I thought he was gonna fire me," Eddy told the audience of professors, journalists, and authors. When he arrived in the office, Arnold said the president told him that he "just wanted to get a look at" Arnold, because the weekly sales figures for RCA Records always featured the name "Eddy Arnold" at or near the top of the list. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby had a bet between the two as to who would outsell the other in 1950, and Eddy Arnold outsold them both!

Mr. Arnold is a little hard of hearing and moves slowly. His memory needed jogging by his friend, legendary journalist Charlie Lamb. He has not performed in over a dozen years (save for an impromptu chorus of "Anytime" at the opening of the new Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001). Yet the standing ovation he received at the end of his ten-minute speech clearly moved him. When he left after lunch he was dismissed with yet another standing ovation.

As he should have been. Eddy Arnold is not just a country legend, Billboard's #1 country singles artist of all-time, and the only person to ever receive the "Entertainer of the Year" award after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Eddy Arnold is a national treasure.

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