On This Day: Conway Twitty Dies While on Tour in 1993

by Joe Rutland

Country music fans lost one of their true icons when Conway Twitty, who had multiple Billboard No. 1 songs, died on this day back in 1993.

Twitty, who managed to bridge across from rock and roll to country, died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was 59 years old.

According to an article in the Tennessean, Twitty was on his tour bus and headed toward Nashville and Fan Fest when he collapsed. Conway Twitty had just finished performing a concert in Branson, Missouri.

His songs remain memorable all these years later. “It’s Only Make Believe” put him on the rock charts while “Hello Darlin'” put him on the country charts to stay. That went to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. Other No. 1 songs from the Twitty songbook include “I May Never Get to Heaven” and his version of “The Rose.”

Conway Twitty Scores More No. 1 Hits Through Duet With Loretta Lynn

Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Miss., Conway Twitty had a number of duets with Loretta Lynn receive accolades. They appeared as Conway and Loretta, winning four straight Country Music Association awards as the top vocal duo between 1972-75.

Lynn, who scored a No. 1 with Twitty on “After the Fire Is Gone,” recalled her friend during an interview in 2014. “Conway’s one of the greatest singers that I ever heard,” she said. “… I haven’t heard anybody sing like Conway Twitty since he’s been gone. A lot of people’s tried to, but nobody ever gets it just right.”

While Twitty made a mark in the music world, he also loved baseball. Twitty joined up in 1977, along with entrepreneur Larry Schmittou and other country music stars like Jerry Reed, to create the Nashville Sounds. The team started playing in the Southern League, a Class AA league, in 1978. That’s according to the book “Schmittou: A Grand Slam in Baseball, Business, and Life” by Larry Woody, released in 1996.

Country Music Legend Also Expanded His Reach As Entrepreneur

Obviously, Conway Twitty loved baseball and country music. What about other interests?

The Tennessean reported that he helped sell Twitty Burgers and Twitty birdseed. United Talent, which was owned by both Twitty and Lynn, was a Music Row (in Nashville) booking company. There was Twitty City, opened in 1982 as an $8 million development in the Nashville area.

Fans flocked to hear Conway Twitty perform. A new generation of Twitty fans discovered him actually through “Family Guy,” the Fox TV cartoon. Character Peter Griffin would often interrupt a scene by simply saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty.” Then a 1970s-era clip of Twitty would be shown, giving his music and presence another audience.

Country music fans, old and young alike, will take a minute and remember his impact through his songs.

Here’s Conway singing his forever hit song, “Hello Darlin’.”