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FLASHBACK: OCT. 26th, 1936

'Bird' Takes Wing

Roy Acuff had made a name for himself in "hillbilly" circles for such tunes as "The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannon Ball." He sang them on several radio programs of the era, sparking the interest of the American Recording Company.

American wanted Roy to make records - but Roy had never set foot in a studio. On Oct. 26, 1936, that all changed as Roy walked into the company's studio in Chicago to put his voice on vinyl for the first time.

"The label was especially interested in getting 'The Great Speckled Bird' recorded," Roy later recalled. "I told them, 'You don't want me - you want The Bird.' I was just joking with them."

Roy laid down some serious tracks that day, including "Wabash Cannon Ball," "Charmin' Betsy," "New Greenback Dollar" and, of course, "The Great Speckled Bird."

That latter song eventually helped Roy find a nest on the Grand Ole Opry. His performance of "The Great Speckled Bird" on a 1938 Opry broadcast generated sacks of fan mail, leading to an invitation to become a permanent Opry member.