Almost 25 years to the day that Conway Twitty died at the age of 59, relatives, former bandmates and fans of the country and rockabilly singer gathered Friday in his hometown of Helena, Arkansas for a celebration of his life.
Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in 1933 at Friars Point, Mississippi, his family moved to east Arkansas at the age of 10. After serving in the military, he returned home and had to decide between two dreams: music or baseball, according to Doug Friedlander, organizer of Friday's events. Inspired by the sound of Elvis Pressley, Jenkins traveled to Memphis, working with Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
He adopted the stage name of Conway Twitty, and after being part of the rock and roll circuit for many years, transitioned to country music, producing a long string of number one hits in the 1970s and '80s. In the years since, he has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
You can hear KUAR's interview with Friedlander above, discussing Friday's celebration, Twitty's career, and why it has taken 25 years for this kind of commemoration to be held. Helena-West Helena Mayor Jay Hollowell declared Friday "Conway Twitty Day" in the city, while June 5, the date Twitty died in 1993, will be marked statewide through a proclamtion from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.