Famous Conway Twitty Songs Receive Long Overdue Gold Certifications

We see it often in country music: as soon as an artist fades from commercial applicability, they’re put out to pasture, and often forgotten in the modern context. It’s especially true for artists who pass away when they’re relatively young. Unlike some legends such as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and others, they don’t get to enjoy that victory lap—that swan song that helps solidify their legacy in country music.

Conway Twitty is certainly one to place in that category. With an incredible 55 No. 1 singles, he’s one of the most successful artists in country music history. But you would almost not know it by the way his legacy has slowly faded away in recent memory. Some of it may have to do how much Conway was an artist of his own time. Some of his biggest songs would probably be considered too risque by today’s standards. Some of it has also been attributed to how Conway first got his start in rockabilly and pop, meaning the country purists never fully embraced him despite his success.

Then there was the way Twitty City crumbled, which was originally set up to be the place where Conway’s legacy would be enshrined forever, a.k.a. the Graceland of country music. The sprawling complex in Hendersonville, TN was opened in 1982, with Conway’s 24-room mansion as the centerpiece. He lived there until his death in 1993. When Twitty passed away, the ownership of Twitty City became part of a bitter legal dispute between Conway’s four children and his third wife Dee, eventually putting the property into liquidation. It was ultimately sold to the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Now some feel the legacy of Conway Twitty is ripe for revitalization, and are working hard to see that happen. While monitoring the latest certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, three popular Conway Twitty singles showed up as being Certified Gold on July 13th: “That’s My Job,” “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” and “Tight Fittin’ Jeans.”

It wasn’t only strange these certifications came out of nowhere. It was strange these legendary Conway Twitty songs hadn’t been Certified Gold before. This is how much the accounting for Conway’s catalog had been overlooked. In fact, the last time a Conway Twitty song was given an RIAA certification was in 2010 for “Hello Darlin’.” However, this wasn’t actually for Conway’s iconic track, at least not directly. It was due to the popularity of the song as a ringtone. If you’ll remember, in 2010, ringtones were all the rage. Before then, 1994 was the last time a Conway Twitty title had been submitted to the RIAA—a year after his death.

But recently, Conway Twitty’s daughters Joni and Kathy from his marriage to Temple “Mickey” Medley have been putting in lots of work behind revitalizing their father’s legacy. Mobilizing Conway Twitty fans in a Facebook group, and reaching out to their father’s labels, they were able to push for the new certifications. Working with the Universal Music Group, daughter Joni was able to get them to agree to an audit of Conway’s releases on MCA. Lo and behold, this resulted in the three new Gold Certified singles.

Then they went to work to have Curb Records submit Conway’s The Final Recordings of His Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 released in 1993 after his death to be Certified Gold, which it finally was on August 20th. And they’re not stopping there.

“Both Universal and Warner Brothers will do a second audit in January of 2022, as several other singles are on the edge of certification,” says David Bollinger, who is one of the administrators of the “Conway Twitty Connection” Facebook group, which is putting the collective effort of Conway Twitty fans behind trying to get the country legend more recognition, including letter writing campaigns to get organizations such as The Grammy Awards and the CMA to bestow Conway with posthumous recognition.

“Twitty died at 59. He died too soon to receive many of these awards his peers have received,” says David Bollinger. “We simply lost him too early. His fans just want him to receive his due. He was the biggest country hit maker for two decades after all.”

Along with the lost accounting for many of Conway Twitty’s hits, much of the history of his discography has also lost in history, meaning how and when his music was released, what the singles were, and where they charted. Luckily, a guy named Tom has started a channel on YouTube called “Music Detectives.” Launched in January, the Music Detectives channel has now posted 21 deep dive episodes into Conway’s discography, tracking the releases and their successes and failures, and current events surrounding them (see a sample episode below).

The Golden Era legends of country music such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, they’ve always seemed to receive their fair due. With the way the Outlaws shook up the country music industry and brought a cool factor to the music like never before, they will never be forgotten. More modern artists like Garth Brooks, George Strait Alan Jackson, they’re still selling out stadiums and arenas.

But Conway Twitty has a resume that rivals any of them. And as true country fans continue to find little favor with the new country music of today, rediscovering the work of Conway Twitty—from his early career stuff, to his legendary duets with Loretta Lynn, to his late career successes—has become a labor of love, and richly rewarding.

© 2021 Saving Country Music
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