Cliffie Stone Family Photos
L to R: Governor Jimmie Davis, Cliffie Stone and Eddy Arnold at a Country Music Hall of Fame function in 1992. James Houston ‘Jimmie’ Davis was born into humble beginnings to Louisiana sharecropping parents on September 11, 1899; he lived to be 101 years old wherein he lead an extraordinary life as a teacher, singer and politician. He had an intense desire to be successful and through his own efforts, he graduated from the following schools: Beech Springs High School; Soule Business College in New Orleans; a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College and a Master’s Degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In the 1920s, he taught history for a year at the ‘Dodd College for Girls’ in Shreveport; in the 1930s, he started his successful musical career as a singer in the gospel and country music genres. He recorded more than forty albums for Decca Records in the time period of 1930 – 1960s. His first venture in politics was ‘Public Service Commissioner’ in 1942. When he ran for Governor as a Democrat in Louisiana two years later, he’d sing his hit songs such as “You Are My Sunshine” at his campaign rallies and after he was elected (1944 – 1948), he became known as the ‘singing governor.’  During his first tenure as Governor of Louisiana, he had a #1 hit single, “There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder” in 1945. Twelve years later, he ran for governor again and he was elected (1960 – 1964). He also recorded many gospel albums and in 1967, he served as president of the ‘Gospel Music Association.’ His country hits included “Nobody’s Darling but Mine,” “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland,” “There’s a New Moon Over my Shoulder,” “Where the Old Red River Flows” and his signature song, “You Are My Sunshine,” which became the official state song of Louisiana in 1977. In 1999, “You Are My Sunshine” received the ‘Grammy Hall of Fame Award’ and the ‘Recording Industry Association of America’ named it one of the ‘Songs of the Century.’ In 2003, it was ranked #73 on CMT’s ‘100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.’ The awards Governor Jimmie Davis received included: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1971); Country Music Hall of Fame (1972); the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (2008), and the ‘Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame.’ Eddy Arnold, like Governor Jimmie Davis, was born to sharecropping parents. Ralph Edward Arnold was born on May 15, 1918, on a farm near Henderson, TN. He helped his Dad to plow fields, which is why he was later nicknamed “the Tennessee Plowboy.” As with most sharecroppers, Eddy’s father (fiddle) and mother (guitar) expressed themselves through music and Eddy followed in their footsteps. When he was eleven years old, his father died. With the advent of the Great Depression, he worked at numerous odd jobs to help his family survive. He also attended Pinson High School, where he’d play the guitar and sing at various school functions. When he was sixteen, he debuted on WTJS-AM in Jackson, TN. In his late teens, he performed at local bars and nightclubs. Other radio shows he sang on included WMPS-AM (Memphis). His first big break came around 1940, when Pee Wee King hired him to be the lead singer of his group, ‘Golden West Cowboys’ (1940 – 1943); and they recorded, performed on the Grand Ole Opry and toured as Minnie Pearl’s band. Since the Golden West Cowboys were sponsored by Camel cigarettes, they headlined as the ‘Camel Caravan’ and they entertained the troops on the East Coast until the end of 1942. Colonel Tom Parker was Pee Wee King’s road manager at that time and he’d later become Eddy’s first manager (in later years, the Colonel would be Elvis’ manager). Eddy left the Golden West Cowboys in 1943 after he was offered his own radio show on WSM-AM in Nashville; and he also joined the Grand Ole Opry. With Colonel Parker guiding him, Eddy signed with RCA Victor in 1944, which was the beginning of a long record business association. His first single was of little consequence; however, his next single, “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” peaked at #5 on the country charts in 1945. In 1946, “That’s How Much I Love You,” was his first major hit. Eddy’s hit songs are too numerous to mention in this caption; however, in the decades to follow, Eddy’s next 57 singles all scored in the Top 10 with 19 of them becoming #1 hits. In 1953, Eddy hired a new manager, Joe Csida. In the early 1950s, he hosted a summer replacement network TV show called “The Eddy Arnold Show.” From 1955 to 1960, he was a guest host on ABC/TV show, “Ozark Jubilee” wherein he also performed.  Eddy was featured in a syndicated TV show called “Eddy Arnold Time” and from 1960 to 1961, he hosted NBC/TV’s “Today on the Farm” show. However, in the early 1960s, Eddy’s records weren’t selling, which made Eddy seriously consider retiring. After all, he had invested his money wisely, especially in land. So it appeared that Eddy’s career was over, but that changed when Jerry Purcell became Eddy’s manager in the mid 1960s. There is a wonderful and informative article written by Bill Winstead called “Jerry Purcell: A Masterful Manager,” which corroborates Cliffie Stone’s basic premise in his talent show book that “Great Management Is Equally As Important as Great Talent!” Jerry’s business background included working in ad agencies, all aspects of TV production along with having an inborn knack for management and an ear for songs, which he parlayed into becoming a successful manager for numerous artists. All the foregoing was conducive to Jerry’s huge role in renovating Eddy’s career. When Jerry wanted to pick out the songs for Eddy, RCA executive and producer, Chet Atkins, resisted at first, and Chet agreed with Jerry that Eddy’s records should have a more polished arrangement. (Chet and Owen Bradley were among the frontrunners of the lush sound of violins and other stringed instruments that was called the ‘Nashville Sound’ wherein the banjo and fiddles were eliminated.  Eddy’s new album, “Pop Hits From the Country Side,” reflected the new lush ‘Nashville Sound,’ which included the Anita Kerr background singers as well as the piano riffs by future Hall of Famer, Floyd Cramer. (Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline were among the first artists to incorporate the Nashville Sound arrangements in their recordings which crossed them over into an expanded audience of both country and pop genres.) Per Jerry’s advice, Eddy also had an extreme makeover in his entire wardrobe such as wearing tuxedos, which he wore on his new album’s front cover. Jerry wisely coordinated a tour with Roger Miller whose ‘King of the Road’ record was a huge hit and had just won a Grammy; and through Jerry’s innate promotional skills, Eddy and Roger’s tour was a huge success. In 1966, Jerry got Eddy booked at Carnegie Hall that was a huge hit with the New York audiences, which garnered Eddy another invitation back to Carnegie Hall in 1967; and in ‘Time Magazine’s’ review, they called Eddy the ‘Country Como.’ (Perry Como was the top crooner in the Pop field at this point in time.) The lush musical arrangements by Bill Walker’s orchestra helped to make Eddy’s new records such as “Make the World Go Away,” “Turn the World Around,” “What’s He Doing in My World,” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” into worldwide hits in both country and pop genres and his record sales were sky high. At this point in time, Eddy started performing with symphony orchestras in major cities, and his prestigious venues included the ‘Waldorf Astoria’ in New York, the ‘Coconut Grove’ in Hollywood as well as Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe showrooms. Jerry Purcell booked Eddy on countless primetime network TV shows such as Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin, Red Skelton and the Kraft Music Hall. On October 3, 2000, Curb Records released Eddy’s CD, “Seven Decades of Hits.” In 2005, RCA Victor released Eddy’s final album, “After All These Years” and a single from this album, “To Life,” debuted at #49 on the ‘Hot Country Songs’ charts. Eddy Arnold’s discography is too massive to list. Eddy’s awards includes: Country Music Hall of Fame (1966); CMA’s ‘Entertainer of the Year’ (1967); Academy of Country Music’s “Pioneer Award” (1984;) and in 1999, the NARAS inducted the recording of “Make the World Go Away” into the “Grammy Hall of Fame.” Eddy also was awarded the “National Medal of Arts” in 2000; and, in 2005, he received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the Recording Academy. He announced his retirement on May 16, 1999. Eddy signed with RCA Victor in 1944 and by 1992, he sold over 85 million records. To reiterate what Cliffie Stone said, “Great Management Is Equally As Important as Great Talent!”

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