In anticipated celebration of what was to be the 90th birthday of country music legend Eddy Arnold, his longtime recording home – RCA Nashville – had planned to approach radio stations with a request: to play the song, “To Life” – a track from his 2005 album, After All These Years – with the intention of earning one more chart hit, and a historic milestone, for the country gentleman who recorded such classics as “Make the World Go Away” and “Bouquet of Roses.” Eddy Arnold’s passing on May 8, just days before his 90th birthday on May 15, brought a special poignancy to the effort, and radio honored the man and his music by granting the Country Music Hall of Fame legend the 147th chart single of his career.
With the appearance of “To Life” on this week’s Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Arnold becomes the only country artist in history to enjoy chart success in each of the past seven decades. He also acquires the career distinction of having the longest span of charted country singles, beginning with “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” on June 30, 1945, and now with “To Life,” nearly 63 years later.
In praise of Arnold, Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante hailed, “He is one of those rare singers whose voice is timeless … his success on the charts is now the same.”
RCA Nashville Vice President, National Promotion, Keith Gale offered, “We are so thankful that Country Radio joined us in this tribute to Eddy Arnold. We honored the man and his music. And we did it together.”
Initiated by the RCA Nashville promotion department, “To Life” was made available to radio in its original version as well as a special edit that included comments Arnold had made in an interview done for the label at the time of the album. Everyone at RCA had a special fondness and tremendous regard for Arnold, having spent time with him at events through the years, and the RCA Nashville staff was present at the public services held for him at the Ryman Auditorium this past Wednesday, May 14.
Arnold, who years ago earned the nickname “The Tennessee Plowboy,” was 87 years old when his final RCA Nashville album was released in 2005. At the time, Galante recalls him saying that RCA was his home, and indeed, his passion for music-making never faded – even recently expressing interest to Galante in recording yet another album.
Truly a towering figure in the history of country music, Arnold was the Country Music Association’s first Entertainer of the Year in 1967, and in 2005, he was presented with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. In a career with record sales in excess of 85 million albums, Eddy Arnold earned more Top 10 hits (92) and more consecutive Top 10 hits (67) than anyone in country history. Ranked as Billboard’s #1 country artist of all time, he also earned 28 chart-topping singles that collectively spent an astounding 145 weeks at #1 – an accomplishment unmatched to this day.
Hats off to the RCA/Nashville promo team, who put the above press release out this morning .. and to all of country radio, pulling together to do something truly historic.
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