Top Male Country Singers of the 60s You’ll Love
The 1960s were a big time for music, and country music was a big part of the industry’s success. The best male country singers of the 60s set standards for what the future of the genre would look like, and influenced the next generation that succeeded them. Here are our picks for the top male singers of the 1960s.
Male Country Singers of the 60s We Love
How about we kick this list off by discussing Conway Twitty?
The well-known country singer, whose stage name was Conway Twitty, was born Harold Jenkins in 1933. He began his career with two unsuccessful recordings in 1957. However, soon after, he became quite successful in the pop and rock-and-roll industries.
However, it seems he wasn’t as interested in those industries as he was in country music. Beginning in 1965, he began recording country albums, though he ran into some trouble with radio stations refusing to play them. The stations didn’t want to play him because he was known as a rock-and-roll artist.
In 1968, Twitty finally broke through the barrier and had his first country hit, The Image of Me. He went on to have quite a few more hits, continuing to cross genres randomly. Twitty won numerous awards and accolades for his music and distinctive voice. One of his most popular, Hello Darling, has been the source of many childhood memories. Interviews with him show what a down to earth, incredibly generous person he was.
Not only was Twitty a musician, but he was an athlete as well. He was an incredible baseball player; the Philadelphia Phillies even offered him a spot after high school. Sadly, he was drafted and couldn’t sign the contract. Regardless, he had a life full of success, wealth, and family before passing away in 1993.
- Favorite Song
If you’re into upbeat, classic country music, Conway Twitty’s Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man is the song for you. In fact, it’s my favorite song by Conway Twitty. He sings the lively melody with the help of the beautiful Loretta Lynn. It’s quite a catchy and popular tune, one that becomes quite easy to sing along with.
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Hank Williams Jr.
Son of legendary Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr. is a spectacular country music singer/musician who became a legend himself. Nicknamed Bocephus by his father, Hank Jr. made a career by recording and performing covers of his father’s and working hard to imitate his father’s style.
Hank Jr. was encouraged by his mother, Audrey, who insisted that he continue his father’s legacy. But, he fought to make a name for himself as well. Unfortunately, he became disappointed and frustrated by distracted and hostile crowds who only wanted to hear Hank Sr. ‘s songs. It became rather disheartening for Hank Jr.
While he was pressured to solely be a Hank Sr. impersonator, Hank Jr. worked hard to create his own sound and style. He is known for dabbling in a couple different genres of music, and doing so well. He made quite a few TV appearances and pursued a musical path that would eventually lead him to be a superstar in the world of country music.
Due to a horrific accident, Hank Jr. was forced to create what was considered his signature look–beard, sunglasses, and a cowboy hat. But his positivity got him through the ordeal and he came out the other side to continue his career. He had a great many hits, and was extremely loved by all his fans.
- Favorite Song
One of my all time favorite songs is Hank Jr.’s Family Tradition. The lyrics are not extremely blunt in their meaning about Hank Jr. basically carrying out a family tradition. Following in his father’s footsteps. Struggling to break from the path that’s been chosen for him. How he chose to cope with it.
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When you think about Willie Nelson, most of us picture the current Willie; with his braided long hair and his bandana around his forehead. But, going back to the 60s when he signed his first contact and had his first major hits; well that’s a different Willie altogether.
Nelson is a natural vocalist, bandleader, songwriter, and even occasionally dabbles in acting. When someone says they can do it all, it seems like he really can. Nelson is known for his unique style and down to earth nature.
During the 1960s, his first releases became top 10 hits, leading him to a membership of the Grand Ole Opry. But, he wouldn’t top charts again til 1975. He struggled a bit because of his style, inspired by artists like Frank Sinatra; singing slightly offbeat in his husky baritone voice.
Alongside being a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Nelson has one a number of awards and acknowledgements for his works. He ventured into acting, writing, and even becoming the Texas Roadhouse spokesperson. Nelson also founded Luck Films and created the radio show, Willie’s Roadhouse. The list of his achievements goes on.
- Favorite Song
While there are an incredible number of amazing Willie Nelson songs to choose from, it’s an easy choice for me. His beautiful, heartfelt melody, Always On My Mind, has planted itself in my heart. His voice is rough yet soothing, especially in this song. The words are eloquent and beautifully written. It’s a song that will always be relatable when it comes to relationships, and it will be a part of Nelson’s legacy forever.
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An American singer/songwriter, Johnny Cash is known for his sorrowful style, song themes of moral tribulation and hopeful redemption. His voice is mesmerizing, a deep and calming bass-baritone voice. Cash’s name is mentioned in songs and movies released over the years.
Cash had a trademark tradition during his concerts, always following the same steps. He would simply introduce himself, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” and then he’d grace his fans with one of his signature songs, Folsom Prison Blues. But Cash had a list of signature songs, including Man in Black, I Walk the Line, and Ring of Fire. They are among his most popular hits during his career.
Beyond his music career, Cash was well-known for nurturing up-and-coming artists. He put a lot of effort into supporting artists who don’t fit the acceptable country music standard and has defended them. Two tribute albums that included both well-known musicians (Kindred Spirits) and lesser-known performers (Dressed in Black) were released by him prior to his passing.
Before his death, Cash received numerous awards, including Grammy Awards. The Johnny Cash Memorial Fund was created to honor his memory and the work he did for SOS Children’s Villages. There have been tributes in all of the entertainment industry to honor Cash. There’s even a festival in Mississippi created in his memory. His legacy will live on in country music forever.
- Favorite Song
While there is a long list of Cash songs that are great, there is one that sticks out in my mind. His rendition of You Are My Sunshine is the most special version ever created. His voice is soothing and brings back many memories of my childhood. It’s home to me, and for that matter, to many others.
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Glen Campbell, an American entertainer, began loving music at a young age, learning to play the guitar at only 4 years old. By age 6, he was performing on local radio stations. With no formal training, Campbell made his way through his youth playing guitar at country fairs, local church picnics, and made a few appearances at local nightclubs.
When he finally began to pursue her career, Campbell headed off to Los Angeles and began doing covers for incredible artists. He was able to experiment with many different singing genres thanks to his broad vocal range. He even befriended Elvis Presley after covering some of his material.
Finally, after years of small-time performances and covers, he struck out on his own. He had a streak of hit songs through the 60s and 70s. During his five decade career, Campbell released 64 albums, including gold albums, platinum albums, and a double-platinum album. These albums included songs like Gentle on My Mind, Wichita Lineman, and Southern Nights.
Beyond his music career, Campbell planted roots in television. In addition to hosting The Glen Campbell Goodtime Houron CBS, he dabbled in acting. He released several Christmas specials, acted in a few movies, and made appearances on a number of shows. All of this work, added to his music industry success, earned him a great number of nominations and awards.
- Favorite Song
There are a lot of special Glen Campbell songs, but my ultimate favorite is Rhinestone Cowboy. The lyrics are impressive and memorable, and his talent is showcased well. His vocal range is put to the test with some of the notes, but he was always able to smoothly hit the notes to make it sound amazing.
There’s not many artists like Merle Haggard, an American country singer, fiddler, and guitarist. Haggard started life with a troubled childhood after the death of his father. He struggled, landing himself incarcerated and in prison several times. But he was able to get his life together and begin a successful music career.
Out of the many hits through his years, Haggard had a few that could be considered career defining songs. Okie from Muskogee is one of them. It’s commonly known that while a great many Americans were protesting the Vietnam War, Haggard was among a “silent majority” who were supporting the troops.
However, he didn’t stay silent. He told The Boot that he didn’t really understand what all those people were complaining about. The men at war had given up their entire lives to be there, and he couldn’t understand how the people who had their freedom could complain about that.
Haggard had a successful career in the music industry and got his foot in the door with acting, though he never pursued it. He received a number of awards and many nominations for his incredible songs. He left a legacy of pot smoking and great country music when he passed.
- Favorite Song
Among the many great songs by Merle Haggard, Mama Tried is the one that stands out the most to me. The lyrics are pretty relatable for those black sheep, rebel children of families. Despite their mother’s best efforts to guide them in the right direction, many people experience this and still make mistakes. Besides the lyrics, the voice of Merle Haggard is extremely comforting—a voice of my past. The music is upbeat and exciting; the whole song just comes together so well.
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The last on our list of the best male artists of the 60s is the one and only George Jones. His most popular song, He Stopped Loving Her Today, is one that any country fan will know. The hit is one of many incredible songs he has recorded over the course of his five-decade career.
Jones began his career with his first record, No Money in This Deal, a self-penned success. After that, his songs topped charts left and right, making him one of the most notorious country music artists in history. His performances were those that people from all over the country would come to see.
He performed his songs over the years, but for a while was deemed “no show Jones” due to years of alcoholism affecting his health. Sadly, it affected most of the late 60s through the 70s. But it doesn’t change the effect he had on artists and fans in the years to come.
Sadly, years later, in 2013, Jones met the end of his career through his death. It was a death that rocked the entire country music industry. Tribute performances went on for months after his passing, with tears filling the audiences’ and even the performers’ eyes. Jones left behind honors, awards, and nominations that will always be there. But more importantly, he left us with memories of him and his knowledge for others to follow in his footsteps.
- Favorite Songs
With George Jones being the incomparable artist that he is, it may be difficult for some to pick a song that they love the most. However, that’s not the case for me. The Race is On is my absolute favorite Jones song. It brings back childhood memories and is a comfort song for me. It sounds silly given the lyrics, but truly hearing it takes me back years. It’s catchy and fun to sing, and the instrumentals are upbeat and entertaining. It’s a one-of-a-kind hit.
The 1960s were a groundbreaking time in the country music industry. The best male country artists of the 60s were laying down the groundwork for countless young male country singers that followed them. They set the standards for what country music would look like going forward. The decade spit out some of the most talented and memorable artists in the history of country music.
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