November 23, 1992 – Roy Acuff, best remembered by the millions of Grand Ole Opry listeners as “King of Country Music”, left the country music industry devastated by his death. He had been in and out of the hospital for heart problems and finally succumbed to congestive heart failure at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 89.
Roy Claxton Acuff was a virtuoso from the artistic handpainted ties, skills on the yo-yo, and the ability to balance a fiddle bow on his nose, to country music. He was the genre’s first superstar, a “hillbilly music” traditionalist who impressed everyone with his evergreen records including “The Great Speckled Bird,” “Wabash Cannonball,” “Fireball Mail,” “The Precious Jewel,” and “Night Train to Memphis”.
He was also a legend, largely credited for the major shift in the genre from the string-band, ‘hoedown’ format to a style dominated by solo singers with bands when he joined the Opry in 1938. As Acuff once said, he would like to believe that he was one of the first singers who reared back and hit the microphone with a strong voice.