100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
With a sweeping career that spanned six decades, Eddy Arnold was a pivotal force in country music as it grew from a regionally popular musical style into a genre popular throughout the country.
Arnold was raised on a Tennessee farm, and as he developed his musical talent, he would play local barn dances when he wasn’t working in the fields. Like many artists of his time, he first gained popularity on local radio stations, eventually moving to Memphis, where his radio work brought him widespread acclaim.
His rising star earned him a spot on the Camel Caravan, a traveling show that played for U.S. soldiers during World War II. He followed this up with a stint in the Golden West Cowboys, adopting the Tennessee Plowboy as a stage moniker, which remained a popular alternate name for him long after he left the band.
By 1944, he was a recording artist for RCA Victor. It was during the next few years that he would become a bona fide superstar, with his smooth country records topping the charts for multiple weeks. Once such hit, “Bouquet of Roses”, spent 21 weeks at #1, a record that wasn’t broken until 2013, when chart rule changes allowed Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” to outlast the classic Arnold hit.
His international touring and the emerging power of television made Arnold a household name in the fifties. For many, he was the first introduction to country music. His popularity made him the first country star to have his own televisions series, called Eddy Arnold Time. His hits slowed down for a bit in the early sixties, but he re-emerged more popular than ever when the Nashville Sound began to dominate. It was the perfect fit for Arnold’s style, and classics like “What’s He Doin’ in My World” and “Make the World Go Away” returned him to the top of the charts, with his album sales reaching all-time heights.
His unique combination of a long legacy in the genre and contemporary relevance was best demonstrated when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, and then named the first CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1967. In the years since that remarkable accomplishment, George Strait is the only other artist to win an Entertainer of the Year trophy after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
While the hits slowed down from the seventies onward, his popularity remained, as his live shows and television performances kept him fresh in the minds of country music fans. After his death in 2008, he returned to the country charts with “To Life”, becoming the first artist to hit a country singles chart in seven different decades.
- It’s a Sin, 1947
- Anytime, 1948
- Bouquet of Roses, 1948
- Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle, 1949
- There’s Been a Change in Me, 1951
- The Cattle Call, 1955
- What’s He Doing in My World, 1965
- Make the World Go Away, 1965
- I Want to Go With You, 1966
- Somebody Like Me, 1966
- Wanderin’ with Eddy Arnold, 1955
- Thereby Hangs a Tale, 1959
- Cattle Call, 1963
- The Easy Way, 1965
- My World, 1965
- Turn the World Around, 1967
- The Everlovin’ World of Eddy Arnold, 1968
Next: #11. Waylon Jennings
Previous: #13. Bill Monroe
I commented on Jim Reeves that he was one of my mother’s favorite singers and that he had such a mellow sound. I can say the same about Eddy Arnold. I believe “Make the World Go Away” was her favorite Arnold song. I like it too and occasionally play my Ultimate Eddy Arnold cd..
If I’m not mistaken, he also had a big 1954 hit with “I Really Don’t Want To Know”, which a lot of people (Elvis, notably) recorded in the decades to follow.
And of course, there’s always “Make The World Go Away”, which he basically made into a standard even beyond the country music world in ’65. To get it played on pop radio at that time alongside the Beatles (it got played alongside “Yesterday”) was a superhuman feat (IMHO).
The Billboard Country Charts started on 1/1/1944 . Arnold’s chart debut was on 6/30/45 with “Each Minute Seems A Million Years” which topped out at #5. His first #1 was in 1947 with “What Is Life Without Love” . From that point forward Eddy’s singles through the end of 1949 would spend 86 weeks at #1 .
Eddy probably belongs in the top ten, maybe even in the top five