After an aborted career as a '50s teen idol, Billy "Crash" Craddock returned to his first love, country music, and earned the nickname "Mr. Country Rock" with a string of popular hits during the '70s. Born in Greensboro, NC, in 1939, Craddock earned his nickname as a running back on his high-school football team, and grew up a huge fan of the Grand Ole Opry. He signed with Columbia in the late '50s, but instead of marketing him as a country singer, the label tried to make him a teen idol, and had him record a mix of Elvis-style rockabilly tunes and pop ballads. Craddock did manage to land three hit singles in Australia, but none in his home country, and aside from a lone album for King in 1964 (I'm Tore Up), he was largely missing-in-action afterwards. That all changed in 1971, when Craddock signed with Cartwheel Records -- this time as a country artist. His first five singles -- a remake of "Knock Three Times," "Dream Lover," "You Better Move On," "Ain't Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on The Trees)," and "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door" -- all made the country Top Ten over 1971-1972. He subsequently moved to ABC and scored his first chart-topper with 1974's "Rub It In," which also crossed over to the pop Top 20. More hits followed, including a second number one in 1975 with a remake of the Drifters' "Ruby Baby," and a third in 1977's "Broken Down in Tiny Pieces." All told, Craddock landed in the country Top Ten a total of 18 times from 1971-1979, with his final entry being "If I Could Write a Song as Beautiful as You." He recorded for Capitol during the late '70s and early '80s, by which time his commercial momentum had finally slowed.
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