Eddie Rabbitt

As country music spread from America's rural, Southern heartlands and into the cities and pop charts in the 1970s and '80s, Brooklyn-born Eddie Rabbitt was one of the urban cowboys who helped the genre cross over to new audiences. The son of Irish immigrants, he was a high school drop-out working low paid jobs and playing in Newark bars at night, until moving to Nashville in 1968 with dreams of becoming a songwriter. On his first night in town he penned Working My Way Up To The Bottom, which became a small hit for Roy Drusky, and he landed a job as a staff writer for a publishing company, where he honed his craft alongside Kris Kristofferson. His big breakthrough came when Elvis Presley recorded his track Kentucky Rain, and he signed a deal with Elektra Records to become an artist in his own right, scoring the first of 17 US Country number one singles with Drinkin' My Baby (Off My Mind) in 1976. Charming audiences with his up tempo, soulful style, he also sat comfortably on pop radio and he topped the US charts with I Love A Rainy Night in 1980. More big hits included Drivin' My Life Away, You And I and Step By Step, which was the first country music video ever to be played on MTV. He had his last number one country hit in 1989 with On Second Thought, but he is credited with paving the way for Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney and the era of stadium-filling, country-pop superstars. After suffering with lung cancer, Rabbitt died in 1998 aged 56.

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