Richard Edward Arnold, known professionally as Eddy Arnold, was an American country music singer who performed for six decades. He created the Nashville sound in the late 1950s, and had 147 songs on the Billboard country music charts, second only to George Jones. Arnold sold more than 85 million records from 1943 until his death in 2008.
Arnold transcended different musical tastes in country music. He served as a role model for future musicians with both his music and his scrupulously moral personal life. A member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Arnold ranked 22nd on Country Music Television’s 2003 list of “The 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.”
Arnold was born on May 15, 1918 on a farm near Henderson, Tennessee. His father, a sharecropper, played the fiddle, while his mother played guitar. As a boy Arnold helped on the farm, which later gained him his nickname—the Tennessee Plowboy. Arnold attended Pinson High School in Pinson, Tennessee, where he played guitar at school functions and events. He dropped out before graduation to help with the farm work, but continued performing, often arriving on a mule with his guitar hung on his back. Arnold also worked part time as an assistant at a mortuary.
In 1934, at age 16, Arnold made his debut on WTJS-AM in Jackson, Tennessee, landing a job there in 1937. He performed at local night clubs and had a permanent spot on the station. In 1938, he was hired at WMPS-AM in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was one of its most popular performers. He soon left for KWK-AM in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by a brief stint at WHAS-AM in Louisville, Kentucky.