Roy Claxton Acuff (September 15, 1903 – November 23, 1992) was an American country music singer, fiddler, promoter, and freemason. Known as the "King of Country Music", Acuff is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and "hoedown" format to the singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful. In 1952, Hank Williams told Ralph Gleason, "He's the biggest singer this music ever knew. You booked him and you didn't worry about crowds. For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God."Acuff began his music career in the 1930s and gained regional fame as the singer and fiddler for his group, the Smoky Mountain Boys. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and although his popularity as a musician waned in the late 1940s, he remained one of the Opry's key figures and promoters for nearly four decades. In 1942, Acuff and Fred Rose founded Acuff-Rose Music, the first major Nashville-based country music publishing company, which signed such artists as Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers. In 1962, Acuff became the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Acuff was born on September 15, 1903 in Maynardville, Tennessee, to Ida (née Carr) and Simon E. Neill Acuff, the third of their five children. Roy Acuff is of English ancestry, and his ancestors came to North America during the colonial era, settling in the mountains of Virginia and the Carolinas. The Acuffs were a fairly prominent family in Union County. Roy's paternal grandfather, Coram Acuff, had been a Tennessee state senator, and his maternal grandfather was a local physician. Roy's father was an accomplished fiddler and a Baptist preacher, his mother was proficient on the piano, and during Roy's early years the Acuff house was a popular place for local gatherings. At such gatherings, Roy would often amuse people by balancing farm tools on his chin. He also learned to play the harmonica and jaw harp at an early age.In 1919, the Acuff family relocated to Fountain City (now a suburb of Knoxville), a few miles south of Maynardville. Roy attended Central High School, where he sang in the school chapel's choir and performed in "every play they had." His primary passion, however, was athletics. He was a three-sport standout at Central and, after graduating in 1925, was offered a scholarship to Carson-Newman University but turned it down. He played with several small baseball clubs around Knoxville, worked at odd jobs, and occasionally boxed.In 1929, Acuff tried out for the Knoxville Smokies, a minor-league baseball team then affiliated with the New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). A series of collapses in spring training following a sunstroke, however, ended his baseball career. The effects left him ill for several years, and he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1930. "I couldn't stand any sunshine at all," he later recalled. While recovering, Acuff began to hone his fiddle skills, often playing on the family's front porch after the sun went down. His father gave him several records of regionally renowned fiddlers, such as Fiddlin' John Carson and Gid Tanner, which were important influences on his early style.
Movies & TV shows
1 TV show
Explore the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns performed in small settings, to its worldwide popularity, learn how coun...
Opry Video Classics: Pioneers
Some of the earliest and most successful country recording artists include the Carter Family, Roy Acuff and the Sons of the Pioneers. Along with the influential blue-grass bands of Bill Monroe and Fla...
Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly
Sure, Elvis was the King, but who was the Queen? The Women Of Rockabilly – Welcome To The Club is a documentary search for the "Female Elvis", as we meet the women of rockabilly music and explore the ...
Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music
No single figure in American music so dominated a genre as did Bill Monroe with bluegrass. BILL MONROE: FATHER OF BLUEGRASS MUSIC features performances by Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys, Lester...
George Jones: Same Ole Me
They call him "Possum." They also call him "Country Music's Living Legend." His devotion to pure, down-home country music has been unwavering through the years and has allowed him a claim to the title...
2 TV shows
Uncle Dave Macon
Uncle Dave Macon, also known as "The Dixie Dewdrop"—was an American old-time banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian. Known for his chin whiskers, plug hat, gold teeth, and gates-ajar collar, h...
Coal Miner's Daughter
A country and western singer who came from poverty to fame is the subject of this biography.
1 TV show
The Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center honors those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.
Bluegrass Country Soul
Bluegrass Country Soul captures the sights, sounds, and magic of this three-day outdoor festival, the first of its kind, featuring bluegrass veterans and future stars alike sharing the primitive wood ...
The Nashville Sound
Interviews and performances with Nashville celebrities and hopefuls from the late 1960's era of the Nashville music scene. Featured performers include Porter Waggoner, Tex Ritter, Dolly Parton, Roy Ac...
2 TV shows
The Johnny Cash Show
Johnny Cash hosted the Johnny Cash Show. The Screen Gems series aired on ABC from 1969 to 1971 and was filmed in Nashville, Tennessee. The show did not reach No. June Carter Cash and the Carter Family...
Hee Haw was an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 before a 20-year run in local s...
1 TV show
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show was broadcast on NBC from October 1956 to June 1963. The Chevrolet Motor Division sponsored the series and its theme song was " See the U.S.A". After the cancellation of the...
Home in San Antone
Posing as unemployed musicians,Roy Acuff (Roy Acuff) and his Smoky Mountain Boys (The Smoky Mountain Boys), are being helped by Ted Gibson (Bill Edwards), owner of the Harmony Inn in San Antonio, Texa...
Smoky Mountain Melody
Roy Acuff is a star in the Columbia musical. Acuff, playing himself, is a tenderfoot who somehow manages to come out on top when he heads west. Roy and his friends foil the plan of the villains to pro...
Sing, Neighbor, Sing
Country radio singers of the '40s appear in this tale about a lothario who poses as a professor to seduce coeds.
Western talents, along with a theatrical troupe taking their vacation on the Lazy B Ranch run by Steve Bradley, are featured in a song and comedy revue. Steve is about to enter the army and he and Tex...
O, My Darling Clementine
The small group of actors are stuck in the small town of Harmony, Tennessee. Blue Laws are imposed upon the town by the City Council under the influence of their domineering wives. Harry is under the ...