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McCollough, born in Memphis, Tennessee, was the youngest child of John and Clemmie McCollough. He suffered from meningitis as a child, but recovered. During high school he wanted to become a professional baseball player, but was also interested in music, and Hank Williams, Sr. was his idol. He learned to play the mandolin he received for Christmas in 1951 and decided to become a musician.
With his brother Jimmy (bass), his niece Geneva (vocals), Curley Raney (fiddle) and a friend named Grady (steel guitar), he founded his first band, the Drifting Hillbillies. McCollough and his group appeared on Saturday Night Jamboree, a barn dance show in Memphis on WHBQ, and soon became members. Backstage he met a young Elvis Presley.
McCollough also appeared on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour and played at events in Memphis. His brother Jimmy married and left the group, and was replaced first by Buddy Holly (not the well-known Buddy Holly and then by Bobby Howard.
In 1954, he graduated from high school and married in the summer of that year. The marriage did not last long. In Booneville, Mississippi, he bought a record store and became a business partner of Charles Bolton. Their new record label released the group's debut single, "Watch That Girl/Oh Darling." Hayden Thompson and Johnny Burnette recorded their first titles on the same label.
After several unreleased recordings, he published his second single on Meteor Records in January 1956. In the following years McCollough recorded for many different labels, including Republic, Starday, and Memphisk. In 1963, he released a single under the name of Lloyd Arnold. His last session was in 1971.
McCoullough's father died in 1968, two years later his mother followed him. Failing health and years of fighting meningitis he lost the battle on January 10, 1976