It’s time to step back to country music's golden era as we journey through the 1960s, where the twang of guitars and heartfelt lyrics echoed through the airwaves.
In this article, we pay homage to the best male country singers of the 60s, and the iconic voices that shaped a generation.
1. John Denver
The 1960s was a time of significant transformation for country music, with artists like John Denver at the forefront. He was known for his sunny disposition, gentle voice, and heartfelt lyrics.
Denver's musical journey started in the late 1960s when he joined the folk group, The Mitchell Trio. However, his decision to go solo led to his groundbreaking entry into the country music scene.
Denver's iconic track “Take Me Home, Country Roads” led to his breakthrough, and became his legacy. Other iconic tracks of his include “Back Home Again,” which was named the Country Music Association's (CMA) Song of the Year in 1975.
2. Hank Williams, Jr.
Hank Williams, Jr. is a popular country music singer and musician and the son of the iconic Hiram “Hank” Williams. He emerged from his father's shadow in the late 1960s and quickly made a name for himself as a rowdy country rocker.
Hank Jr. released numerous hits such as “A Country Boy Can Survive” and “Long Gone Lonesome Blues.” He honored his heritage by reinterpreting his father's classic songs while making a name for himself with original works.
For over two decades, his rendition of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” was the opening theme for “Monday Night Football” on ABC.
3. Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson is a legendary figure in country music. He is not just a singer but also a talented songwriter, musician, political activist, and actor.
During the 60s, he had several mid-chart hits and became known for his unique vocal style and poetic songwriting, creating notable tracks like “Always On My Mind” and “On the Road Again.”
Nelson has had an incredible twenty #1 country hits and 114 chart singles. He was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and won 12 Grammy Awards.
4. Marty Robbins
In country music, one name shines brightly—Marty Robbins. His velvety voice and poetic storytelling earned him a revered place as the balladeer of the genre.
He skillfully blended various styles within country music, including Western, rockabilly, and traditional country. Among his most famous tracks are “Big Iron” and “El Paso.” El Paso won a Grammy Award for Best Country and Western Performance in 1961. He also became a revered member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1953.
Besides his musical achievements, Robbins was a skilled race car driver and even competed in NASCAR events, earning him recognition in motorsports.
5. Conway Twitty
Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, Conway Twitty began his music journey not as a country singer but as a rockabilly performer. With his unique voice and sweeping talent, it wasn't long before he transitioned to the world of country music, where he garnered massive success.
Twitty's career boasted over 50 chart-topping country singles that reached audiences nationwide. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
In the 1970s alone, he experienced an impressive streak of hits like “You've Never Been This Far Before” and “Hello Darlin'” that certified his place among some of the most iconic names in the genre's history.
6. Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell was a talented and versatile artist who made his mark in the country music scene of the 60s with his soulful voice and exceptional guitar skills.
During the late 1960s, he achieved incredible success as a country-pop musician. He released a string of hit songs that climbed the charts, including “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle on My Mind.” He also received 6 Grammy Awards throughout his career.
Beyond his musical achievements, Campbell showcased his acting skills in films like “True Grit” (1969) and starred in “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” a popular variety television show that ran from 1969 to 1972.
7. Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard made an indelible impact on country music. Raised during the Great Depression, his unique upbringing and challenging youth were reflected in his poignant songwriting, earning him a reputation as the “Poet of the Common Man.”
His extensive discography is adorned with a treasure trove of classics, including “Okie from Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home.”
By the late 20th century, Haggard became one of the most popular performers in country music, with nearly 40 #1 hits under his belt. Additionally, he received multiple accolades from revered institutions like The Academy of Country Music Awards, where he was voted Top Male Vocalist.
8. Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings pioneered the country music industry and played an important role in the outlaw movement. His rugged voice and rebellious spirit set him apart as a trailblazer in the genre.
He rose to fame as the bassist for Buddy Holly on the “Winter Dance Party” tour. They were close friends and roommates during their early careers.
Among his notable tracks are “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” as well as “Good Hearted Woman.” In addition to winning 2 Grammy Awards, The CMA honored him with several awards, including Single of the Year for “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” in 1977.
9. George Jones
George Jones was a talented musician, singer, and songwriter in the country music genre. In the early 1960s, he had already become one of the top singers in country music with his soul-stirring voice and emotional depth.
Jones was known for his heartfelt songs about heartbreak. Among his masterpieces are the notable tracks “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes.”
Furthermore, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, a testament to his lasting impact on the music industry.
10. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash stood apart from his country peers with his deep, resonant baritone and catchy, vivid lyrics. He was one of the definitive country stars of his age and had a career that extended well past that golden era.
Throughout his illustrious career, Cash released many hits that have become timeless classics, including “Ring of Fire” and “A Boy Named Sue.” He even won a Grammy award for the latter in 1970.
Over his lifetime, Cash sold over 90 million records worldwide—an astounding number confirming him as one of the best-selling music artists ever.