Tennessee Ernie Ford was not the first singer to record ‘Sixteen Tons’, but he made it his signature song in 1955. Ford recorded 'Sixteen Tons' as the B-side of his cover of the Moon Mullican standard 'You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry'. With Ford's snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement, the song quickly became a million single seller. It hit Billboard's country music chart in November and held the No. 1 position for ten weeks, then crossed over and held the number 1 position on the pop music chart for eight weeks.

Ernest Jennings Ford (February 1919 – October 1991), professionally known as Tennessee Ernie Ford, was an American singer and TV host who enjoyed success in the country and Western, pop, and gospel musical genres. He was noted for his rich bass-baritone voice and down-home (Bristol, Tennessee) humor. He is best remembered for his hit recordings of 'Shotgun Boogie' and his signature song version of 'Sixteen Tons'.

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