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CONWAY TWITTY

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In a time when performers over 40 rarely make the country charts, Conway Twitty still scored big records more than 30 years after his first hit. Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Miss., where his father was a riverboat pilot, Twitty began his rock career with the 1958 smash ”It’s Only Make Believe,” before ambling over to country in 1965. He specialized in dramatic ballads and romantic fantasy, delivered with a throaty growl and over-the-top emotionalism. Twitty’s fans rewarded his smoldering sensuality with almost religious fervor and 40 No. 1 hits-more than Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra. ”I say things that women like to hear-things that men want to say but have trouble saying,” he said once. ”This way, all the men have to do is drop a quarter in the jukebox.” Twitty died on June 5 of an abdominal aneurysm. That he was only 59 brings sad irony to one of his own songs: ”Life’s Too Short (No Matter How Long It Lasts).” Not nearly long enough in Twitty’s case. Required listening: Silver Anniversary Collection, Crazy in Love, and Greatest Hits Volume III (all MCA, 1990); Even Now (MCA, 1991).

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