One of many early rockabilly performers who later transitioned to the country side, Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock earned the title of ‘Mr. Country Rock’ during a long career that continues even now. His biggest hits — songs like “Rub It In” and “Broken Down in Tiny Pieces” — had a definite country flavor, but he started way back in the late 1950s as something closer to a teen idol.
Growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, Billy Wayne Craddock — who picked up his ‘Crash’ nickname while playing high school football — was surrounded by country music. His large family (which included 13 kids) was into everything from harmonica to guitar to gospel singing, and young Billy was right in the midst of it all.
As he approached adulthood in the late 1950s, he was determined to make it in music, and he did manage to land a recording contract. However, it was the era of rockabilly and teen idols, and the record company went in that direction with the young performer. He had a little success with “Don’t Destroy Me” and its flip side, “Boom Boom Baby,” which hit the top of the charts in Australia (where he remains popular even now). He generated a number of other records, but within a few years his pop career had wound down.
In the 1970s, Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock came back with a bang, and he did it by returning to his first love, country music. Throughout the decade he made record after record that hit high on the charts, some of them reaching the top. A few were covers of songs other performers had introduced, such as “Knock Three Times” and “Ruby Baby,” but records like “Broken Down in Tiny Pieces” and “Rub It In” were all his. He has continued to build on that success in the decades since, and even though his pace has inevitably slowed, he has still issued new albums in recent years. He also continues to tour and entertain his fans.