Eddy Arnold, the “Tennessee Plowboy,” died this morning at the age of 89, the Tennessean reports. Ranked as Billboard’s most popular country musician of all time, Arnold sold more than 85 million records and had 37 singles on the pop charts. Besides being remembered as a caring man who “radiated gentility,” he is credited with moving country into popular music’s mainstream.
A king of the country charts in the 1940s, Arnold began to modify his sound, replacing traditional country instrumentation with string arrangements and other more soothing accompaniment. A voice Dinah Shore once called "warm butter and syrup being poured over wonderful buttermilk pancakes" rocketed him to success in the '60s and beyond, as he kept his country base while reaching out to urban audiences.