Conway and Loretta proved there was no distance too great to keep their duet from topping the chart. The single also led to their first No. 1 collaborative album.
Conway and Loretta were seemingly at the heights of their solo careers in 1970. Both had topped the charts numerous times in the decade prior. But in 1970, Loretta scored a huge hit with her signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” while Conway did the same with “Hello Darlin’.” So it came as a bit of shock to friends and industry execs when Conway and Loretta decided to join forces for their first duet album, We Only Make Believe, in 1971. Would clashing egos leave their budding friendship scorched? The short answer: No. The long answer: Conway and Loretta became one of country music’s most enduring and successful unions.
We Only Make Believe spawned the No. 1 single, “After the Fire Is Gone,” in 1971. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Loretta and Conway teamed up for their second duet album the following year with Lead Me On. The album’s title track also became a chart-topping hit, while the record peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
It turns out, the third time was the charm for Lynn and Twitty. The duo released their third duet album, Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man, in 1973. The album’s title track, which was penned by Becki Bluefield and Jim Owen, reached No. 1 on August 18, 1973. In September, the album topped the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
“It made sense to us and [Loretta’s husband] Mooney,” said Conway in his 1987 biography, The Conway Twitty Story. “Everybody else fought us on it. Of course, I was my own boss and stood firm. As for Loretta, she finally just had to tell everybody, ‘Hey, we’re going to do it and that’s the way it is.'”
Of course, Loretta and Conway weren’t finished collaborating—not by a long shot. The pair released seven additional duet albums, including Country Partners, Feelins’, and United Talent, all of which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. They also scored numerous hit singles together, including “As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone,” “Feelins’,” and “I Still Believe in Waltzes,” among others.
Conway and Loretta won four consecutive CMA Awards for Vocal Duo of the Year from 1971–1974. They also won the ACM Award for Top Vocal Group in 1971 and 1974–1976. In addition, the tandem won their first (and Conway’s only) Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo/Group in 1971 for “After the Fire Is Gone.”
The duo remained friends until Conway’s death in 1993.