September 15, 2019

Roy Acuff ~ Caruso of Mountain Music

Roy Acuff & his Smoky Mountain Boys 
publicity photo

Today is  the birthday of Roy Acuff; he would have been 116 years old, if he were still alive. He was known as the "King of Country Music (links below)."     

According to Acuff's New York Times obituary (link below), he was a "protest candidate" for governor in the 1944 primaries on the Republican and Democratic ballot. The reason? In 1943, then-Tennessee governor Prentice Cooper disparaged country music by declining to attend a party feting the Acuff-hosted Grand Ole Opry radio show going nationwide. According to the book Smile When You Call Me a Hillbilly: Country Music's Struggle for Respectability, 1939-1954, in Cooper's eyes, Acuff was making Nashville and Tennessee the "hillbilly capital" of the U.S.      

Smile When You Call Me a Hillbilly:

Four years later, however, the country legend emerged from the primaries as the Republican candidate, on a platform the New York Times noted centered on the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. "If they don't work in the Capitol, then I don't want to be governor," Acuff reportedly said.
In 1991, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, and given a lifetime achievement award by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the first Country music act to receive the esteemed honor. Roy Acuff died in Nashville on November 23, 1992 of congestive heart failure at the age of 89.        

NY Times - November 24, 1992

Viewfinder links:     
Roy Acuff           
Net links:     
Hill Billy Music ~ Roy Acuff and His Smoky Mountain Boys      
NY Times obit  ~ Caruso of Mountain Music      
YouTube links    
Styrous ~ Sunday, September 15, 2019