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After his brief career as a baseball player was abruptly ended by severe sunstroke, Roy Acuff became one of the Grand Ole Opry's most popular entertainers. Hailing from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where he learned fiddle as a child, Acuff joined a medicine show in 1932 after recovering from the heat-induced illness. By 1936 Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans had recorded what would become one of his most famous songs, "The Great Speckled Bird." Two years later he was an Opry star, scoring a massive hit with his version of the Carter Family standard "Wabash Cannonball." The next year his group was renamed the Smoky Mountain Boys, and throughout the 1940s Acuff and company scored smash after smash. Dubbed the King of Country Music, Acuff also co-founded one of Nashville's biggest music publishers, Acuff-Rose, which signed Hank Williams among many other songwriters.

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