Conway Twitty: It's Only Make Believe

I was hanging around the local radio station after school one day, (I was doing a Saturday Night Show "For the Kids") when a new record came in by someone named, CONWAY TWITTY. We listened to it and someone said, "Oh that's really Elvis using a funny name," but that was not the case.

"Conway Twitty" (Harold Lloyd Jenkins) was one of several Elvis sound-alikes (Ral Donner-the Girl of My Best Friend being another) that were cashing in on the new Young King's success. The song was called IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE, and it took a while to catch on.

IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE was the "B" side of a record titled, I'LL TRY. The single went nowhere... but the b-side started getting play on jukeboxes across the nation. Eventually, the label (MGM) caught on and started promoting it to radio. Almost a year later, IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE hit #1 on the Pop Charts in the US and 21 other countries. The song sold more than 4 million copies (in 1958!) and Conway got a Gold Record for the wall.

I remember the song as a great Hop Record that came in handy when the boys were to shy to ask the girls to dance, we'd call a "Ladies Choice" and the floor would fill up. It was a love ballad, and in places where there were chaperones, like school gyms, they'd be busy pulling apart some of the grinders. Conway had a couple of more Pop Hits after that. One, DANNY BOY, was a song that Elvis recorded for his film, "King Creole," but didn't use in the film.

But Conway Twitty loved that country music, and in 1965 decided to cross-over. It took some time for him to make it on Country Radio because the C&W Disc Jockeys hated most of the rockers and considered them "greasy." But once they decided he was Country enough he became the Biggest Country Star of the 70's and 80's with 40 #1 Country Hits.

Fun Fact: Harold Jenkins wasn't getting too far in the Pop Singing World early on despite a great voice and good looks, his manager had served in the Army with a man named, W. Conway Twitty, and suggested that Harold use that name because it had a ring to it.

The real Conway Twitty hated it because for years people would ask him if he was the singer, and finally he released a record titled: WHAT'S IN A NAME BUT TROUBLE. Here's Conway Twitty in his Moment of Triumph in 1958, in a shaky TV Kinescope, with augmented sound singing his hit. @therealdonrocks

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