Born on February 13, 1919 in Bristol, Tennessee, to Clarence Thomas Ford and Maud Long, Ford began his radio career as an announcer at WOPI-AM in Bristol, Tennessee.

In 1939, the young bass-baritone left the station to study classical singing at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Ohio. First Lieutenant Ford served in World War II as the bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress flying missions over Japan.

Tennessee Ernie Ford's Family Tree