Billy "Crash" Craddock (born June 16, 1939) is an American country and rockabilly singer. He first gained popularity in Australia in the 1950s with a string of rockabilly hits, including the Australian number one hit "Boom Boom Baby". Switching to country music, he gained popularity in United States in the 1970s with a string of top ten country hits, several of which were number one hits, including "Rub It In", "Broken Down in Tiny Pieces", and "Ruby Baby". Craddock is known to fans as "Mr. Country Rock" for his uptempo rock-influenced style of country music.
Billy Wayne Craddock was born June 16, 1939 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He learned how to play guitar from his oldest brother when he was six. At age 11, he entered a local television talent contest and was voted top winner for fifteen consecutive weeks. Craddock received the nickname "Crash" while a running back for his high school football team. After he left high school, he formed a rockabilly band with one of his brothers called The Four Rebels. His early influences included Little Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price, and Hank Williams.
Craddock's first release was "Smacky-Mouth", which was recorded in 1957 for the local Greensboro Sky Castle label. He released his next single, titled "Birddoggin'", on Colonial Records. It was also released in 1957.
He soon got a deal with Columbia's Date Records. He released "Ah, Poor Little Baby" with no success. The song was covered in England by Adam Faith. He began recording for Columbia Records in 1958, recording rockabilly and pop tunes. He was marketed as a teen idol by Columbia, as they needed an artist to compete with Elvis. He appeared twice on American Bandstand but failed to have a hit in the U.S. The only song that charted in the U.S. was Don't Destroy Me, which peaked at #94 for one week in November 1959. He did, however, become very popular in Australia. He also recorded some songs that become synonymous with other artistes. He recorded "Am I To Be The One" and "I Want That", which were covered most notably by Jerry Lee Lewis and UK rockers Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
In 1959, Craddock traveled to Australia with Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny, and The Diamonds. He didn't know how popular he was in the country and didn't think that anyone would recognize him there. When the plane arrived at the airport, there were thousands of screaming teenagers. Craddock didn't know that he had the number one record in the country. He soon became the most popular teen idol in the country and is still popular today.
After his hits in Australia, he recorded one album and several singles during the 1960s. I'm Tore Up was released in 1964 on King Records. He released two singles with Mercury Records in the early 1960s. He then went on to record several singles with the Chart label with no success.
Success in the States:
Craddock spent several years out of the music business while working in a cigarette factory and hanging drywall. He soon returned to recording, now as a country singer. He signed with Cartwheel Records in 1969. He soon had his first number one hit with a cover of the Tony Orlando and Dawn pop hit "Knock Three Times" in 1971. His version was faster and included Cajun fiddles. The song also reached the top five of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart that spring, beginning a streak of hits that continued throughout the 1970s. Other hits he had for Cartwheel, all during 1971-1972, included "Dream Lover", "You Better Move On", "Ain't Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on The Trees)", and "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door", were all top 10 hits in 1971 and 1972.
The song also reached the top five of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart that spring, beginning a streak of hits that continued throughout the 1970s. Other hits he had for Cartwheel, all during 1971-1972, included "Dream Lover", "You Better Move On", "Ain't Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on The Trees)", and "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door", were all top 10 hits in 1971 and 1972.
In 1973, Craddock signed with ABC Records (later ABC/Dot Records), where he enjoyed his biggest hits. One was "Sweet Magnolia Blossom" but his biggest hit, 1974's "Rub It In", was also a modest pop hit. Today, several bars from the song are featured in commercials for Glade Plug-In products. Craddock was also credited with doing one of the better covers of Roy Head and the Traits Treat Her Right.
Craddock consistently hit the country top ten in the 1970s and he became one of country music's first male sex symbols, unusually handsome for a male country star of the era and dressed in stage clothes exposing his hairy, muscular chest as he growled his way through rocking numbers and love songs with a stage persona strongly influenced by Elvis Presley.
In 1977, he moved to Capitol Records, where he had his last two top 10 hits: "I Cheated on a Good Woman's Love" (1978) and "If I Could Write a Song as Beautiful as You" (1979). He recorded several more albums for Capitol before leaving the label in 1983.
In 1986, he recorded an album for MCA/Dot Records, titled Crash Craddock. He moved to Atlantic Records in 1989, and released Back on Track. The album yielded one minor hit, "Just Another Miserable Day Here in Paradise", which reached #74 on the charts.
Craddock released a new album of Christmas songs in 2006, titled Christmas Favorites. A new live album, Live -N- Kickin', was recorded and released in 2009.
In 2011, Craddock was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of fame.