Country music enjoyed something of a renaissance In the 1940s and 1950s. In the '50s in particular, with rock and roll music emerging from many of the same studios, country music achieved a new level of crossover success. At least four major stars emerged during that time and became household names.
Johnny Cash is probably the most famous country music artist to have emerged in the 1950s. Known for dressing in all black and a distinct baritone voice, Cash made his mark in 1957 with the songs "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk the Line." "Line" hit No. 1 on the country charts and cracked the top 20 of the pop charts. Cash enjoyed a long and lengthy career recording on his own and with wife June Cash. His career straddled the worlds of country, rock and roll, folk and rhythm and blues. Cash died in 2003.
Patsy Cline achieved national fame in 1956 at the age of 23 after an appearance on ABC TV's "Grand Ole Opry." According to CMT.com, Cline helped "blaze a trail for female singers to assert themselves" in Nashville. She had her biggest crossover success in 1957 with "Walkin' After Midnight," which reached No. 2 on the country charts and hit No. 12 on the pop charts. She's also known for "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy." Cline tragically died in 1963 in a private plane crash. She was just 30 at the time.
Hank Williams became a country music star in 1947 at the age of 24 and was dead by 1953. He still managed to post 35 top 10 country singles including "Move It On Over," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Your Cheatin' Heart." Williams was perhaps as famous for his hard drinking lifestyle as he was for his music. He died under controversial circumstances in the backseat of a Cadillac while traveling between Tennessee and West Virginia on his way to a performance. He was survived by his son Hank Williams Jr., who, along with his son Hank Williams III, became stars in their own right.
George Jones had his first No. 1 hit in 1959 with "White Lightning." Like so many of his contemporaries, Jones was as well known for his drinking as he was for his music. For many years he reportedly drank a screwdriver every morning. Jones was married four times, most famously to fellow country star Tammy Wynette. She had one of the four children he fathered with different women. Despite a bout with cocaine addiction in the '70s, Jones managed to clean up his act and performed into the 21st century.
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