Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Conway Twitty, “Desperado Love”

“Desperado Love”

Conway Twitty

Written by Michael Garvin and Sammy Johns

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

August 1 – August 8, 1986


#1 (1 week)

September 6, 1986

The thing about Conway Twitty is that he never stopped being a great stylist with good taste in material.

A lot of conversation will go on as we get to the late eighties, and many reliable superstars will fade at country radio.  A handful of them, like Twitty, would still be getting airplay into the nineties.  In Twitty’s case, it was really his premature death that ended his run at country radio, long after most of his peers had moved on.

“Desperado Love” would be the last time he topped the Billboard country singles chart, but he has another two No. 1 singles on the way that went to No. 1 on Radio & Records.  Not that this would’ve been a low mark for his run to end on, because it’s a charming and clever record that plays around with the desperado concept.

Applying desperado imagery to stealing another man’s woman, as he puts it, makes for some playful lyrical moments, as Twitty confesses that law and order be damned, he’s going to follow his heart.  Sure, it doesn’t have the smoldering intensity of “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” or the crippling shame and guilt of “Linda On My Mind,” but when you’ve done so many cheating songs before, you have to find some fresh angles to approach it from.

Twitty does that well here, making for another late career highlight. Its parent album, Fallin’ For You For Years, would be his swan song for Warner Bros. Records before reuniting with Jimmy Bowen at MCA Nashville.  The title track will appear in this feature  toward the end of 1986.

“Desperado Love” gets a B+.


Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Not one of my favorite Conway Twitty songs, but as always, Conway nails the performance. Actually, there are very few songs that Conway ever mistreated. He was an agile vocalist who could handle almost any kind of material. His death at age 58 was indeed a tragedy.

  2. I was wondering how to further my argument that Conway Twitty was the most influential country music of the ’80s, not the most significant or important artist perhaps, but the most influential.

    Then I recently read the 2019 Randy Travis biography “Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life” written by Randy Travis and Ken Abraham.

    In it, Travis shares that after a performance of “1982” and “On the Other Hand” on Ralph Emery’s “Nashville Now” television show he was approached by Jeff Davis of United Talent agency who wanted to try to get him on show somewhere with Conway Twitty.

    That somewhere was in Asheville, North Carolina where Travis opened for Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn at the civic center on May 2, 1986.

    The three acts worked together through the summer and the fall of 1986. Then at a November show in Tempe, Arizona , Twitty asked Travis to close his shows, no doubt based on the insane popularity of Randy Travis which was fuelled by his recent hit single “On the Other Hand.”

    It went over so well that Travis closed all the shows for the remainder of the tour.

    What’s my point?

    That Conway Twitty, a music star since the late ’50s freely offered 27 year-old Randy Travis the opportunity to be a headliner on his own tour with Loretta Lynn because it made good promotional and business sense.

    Conway could see a rising superstar and not be intimidated him. Instead, he saw an opportunity and got out of the way.

    Twitty did that because, as Travis noted, “…Conway was both a brilliant entertainer and a good businessman.”

    Twitty understood the business of making music better than many of his peers because he understood first and foremost, what he did was a business. It was always about a song, a persona, and a performance.

    That’s why Conway was still relevant at radio into the ’90s. He held so many aspects of being a commercial artists in balance without getting in his own way.

    “Desperado Love” is proof of that and a perfectly representative close to his Billboard success.


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