PHOTO: Country Music Foundation
In the 1940s and 1950s few Americans were better known than Maynardville, Tennessee
, native Roy Acuff. He started as a baseball player, but then an injury cut short his career and he began playing the fiddle. In 1934 Acuff started going on hillbilly radio shows on stations such as Nashville
(the home of the Grand Ole Opry). With the release of songs such as The Great Speckled Bird and The Wabash Cannonball he became nationally famous. And, with a great sense of humor, Acuff eventually became the host of the Grand Ole Opry.
You can read a lot about Roy Acuff at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris.
Acuff was so popular during World War II that Japanese troops charging at Okinawa
were reportedly yelling, “To hell with Roosevelt
, to hell with Babe Ruth, to hell with Roy Acuff.” In 1948 he ran for governor of Tennessee and got the Republican nomination, but didn't win the general election.
For more on the great Roy Acuff, click here