Sign up for newsletter

Wynette gets Hall of Fame treatment

Friday, April 9, 2010 – Tammy Wynette will get the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum treatment through a special exhibtition. Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music opens in the Museum's East Gallery on Aug. 20 and runs through June 2011.

"Tammy Wynette was a true steel magnolia, a daughter of the South whose ladylike appearance and slight physical stature belied the magnitude of her grit, determination and talent," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Throughout her career, her personal and professional lives were indistinguishably interwoven, resulting in achingly honest recordings and performances to which fans could relate. She helped redefine what it means to be a female country singer. Her death at age 55 came far too soon, but Tammy left behind a musical canon that is among the strongest and most influential in American music history."

Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit's duration. Curators are still deciding what artifacts and audio and video will be included.

Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on May 5, 1942, the Mississippi native was raised by her cotton-farming grandparents. Her father, who died of a brain tumor before Wynette turned one, had once attempted a singing career. As a child and young teen, Wynette, whose mother had taken a job at a Memphis defense plant, attended school, helped her grandparents pick cotton and in her spare time took music lessons and sang with two friends on a local gospel radio show.

At 17, Wynette married Euple Byrd, with whom she had 3 daughters. With no steady employment, Byrd moved the family around, and Wynette held various jobs, including a stint as barmaid and singer in Memphis. She also got her beautician's license. (Wynette famously renewed the license every year for the rest of her life and kept it as an economic Plan B.) Wynette's marriage to Byrd was not a happy one, and the couple divorced in 1965. That same year, Wynette was discovered by Birmingham TV host Country Boy Eddie, and she performed on his show several times. After landing a brief tour with Porter Wagoner, Wynette moved to Music City in 1966.

In Nashville, Wynette met singer-songwriter Don Chapel, who recognized her singing and writing talents and helped her develop them. At the same time, she visited the office of Epic Records executive and producer-songwriter Billy Sherrill to pitch him some songs. Sherrill was impressed with Wynette's voice and signed her to Epic. The producer, however, was not enamored of her name and suggested a catchier moniker, Tammy. The Sherrill-Wynette collaboration yielded instant success: Wynette's first single, Apartment #9, made an impact on the country charts and her follow-up, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad, was a Top Five hit. Two number one hits soon followed: My Elusive Dreams, a duet with David Houston, and I Don't Wanna Play House, which Wynette won a Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy award.

Wynette married Chapel in 1967 and divorced him the following year; the dissolution coincided with another Wynette smash, D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Also in 1968, she released what would become her signature song: Stand by Your Man. The anthem, co-written by Wynette and Sherrill, was the most controversial and most enduring song of Wynette's career. While criticized by the women's movement, Wynette said she intended the song as an expression of a romantic ideal. Wynette was awarded the first of three consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards; Stand by Your Man also netted Wynette her second Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy.

Wynette's next marriage, to fellow superstar George Jones, yielded a daughter and a series of now classic duet hits, including "Golden Ring," "We're Gonna Hold On" and "(We're Not) The Jet Set." The tumultuous relationship ended in divorce in 1975 and was followed by a brief six-week marriage to Michael Tomlin in 1976. Wynette married songwriter-producer George Richey in 1978 and she remained with him for the rest of her life. Golden Ring, We're Gonna Hold On and (We're Not) The Jet Set. The relationship ended in divorce in 1975 and was followed by a brief 6-week marriage to Michael Tomlin in 1976. Wynette married songwriter-producer George Richey in 1978, and she remained with him for the rest of her life.

While Wynette's chart hits waned in the 1980s, she continued to tour successfully; she also began recording with numerous other artists. Her suprising 1992 collaboration with British duo KLF, Justified and Ancient, became an international hit and put Wynette into rotation on MTV. In 1993, Wynette teamed with Lynn and Parton for the hit album "Honky Tonk Angels." Her next release, "Without Walls," was a collection of duets featuring Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Sting and others. Wynette reteamed with Jones in 1995 for another album of duets, "One."

Wynette was beset by various health problems most of her adult life; she endured more than two dozen major surgeries and suffered an abdominal infection that was nearly fatal. As a result, the singer developed an addiction to painkillers and in the 1980s sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center.

Wynette died at age 55 on April 6, 1998. She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame later that year.

More news for Tammy Wynette

CD reviews for Tammy Wynette

Take Me to Your World/I Don't Wanna Play House
"Take Me to Your World/I Don't Wanna Play House," originally released 30 years ago and rather awkwardly named after its two biggest hits, was Tammy Wynette's second album. If not quite on a par with her achievements in her subsequent two releases "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "Stand By Your Man," this is no slouch for all that. "Jackson Ain't a Very Big Town," "Broadminded" and the two title tracks all show producer Billy Sherrill already finding appropriate vehicles for the lyrical subjects and the vocals »»»
Stand By Your Man
No one had a bigger voice or a more tragic catch to their voice than Tammy Wynette - and in that open-throated heartbreak, the collective psyches and traumas of the post-feminist non-feminist woman rose and fell. "Stand By Your Man," from a sociologist's perspective, is certainly the song and, in turn, the album that galvanized Wynette's place as the anti-Steinem; a fact that's both important and misleading. Wynette was never about subservience or being done wrong. She was about compassion and »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Lambert refuses to rest on laurels – Watching this stop on Miranda Lambert's "Livin' Like Hippies Tour," one is struck by just how many great songs the country singer/songwriter already has in her repertoire. With most artists, it's relatively easy to guess which song a performer will choose to close a show. But Lambert has so many winners to pick from, many... »»»
Concert Review: DBT rocks on – Drive-By Truckers still sometimes get miscategorized as alt.-country, but who's kidding whom? With three electric guitarists upfront exchanging hard rock licks all night, this is a blistering Southern rock band. Hitting the stage just before 10, the band played a satisfying 2-hour-plus set. At 11:40, Patterson Hood announced the band would be... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Tyminski goes dark Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
Washburn, Fleck create "Echoes" Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
Hillman bides his time Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
The Cadillac Three creates its "Legacy" William Shakespeare noted a few centuries back that a rose by any other name would be equally aromatic, and that general idea has musical implications as well. The Cadillac Three knows a thing or two about maintaining a sonic identity after a name change;... »»»
With Stanley and Watson, sound isn't elementary Those aware of the late Owsley "Bear" Stanley likely know him for one of two reasons - his pioneering work manufacturing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in San Francisco during the mid-to-late 1960s and his role as an innovative sound engineer. Most notably, Bear worked...... »»»
May shifts gears, directions Headed into 2015, Imelda May was on a hit streak. Her rockabilly career was in full swing, nurtured by the likes of former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and guitar icon Jeff Beck. Her albums routinely topped the charts in her native Ireland.... »»»
Lane assumes mantle of "Highway Queen" For most artists, eight years is a fair amount of time in their careers. For Nikki Lane, eight years represents the entirety of her recorded history, and she's filled that relatively short time span with a highlight reel of impressive accomplishments, not the least of which would be actually... »»»
Staggered CD review - Staggered
East Nashville may be known as "the" Americana hotbed these days, but some of the talent there is very much verging on rock 'n roll. This is the case with Lynn Taylor & the BarFlies on their third release, a collection of personal tunes by the front man. »»»
American Folk soundtrack CD review - American Folk soundtrack
The soundtrack for the independent film, "American Folk," stars two real-life singer-songwriters played by Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, who also contribute the bulk of the material on the soundtrack. Understanding the plot of the film helps explain both the sequence and content of the track list. »»»
Rifles and Rosary Beads CD review - Rifles and Rosary Beads
Mary Gauthier has built her career on honest, sometimes brutally and achingly self-confessional songs. This is the first time that she has focused on experiences other than her own, and it could become not only the strongest album of her career but, in its own way, a landmark album. »»»
Work CD review - Work
Matt Hectorne's new album - his third solo effort - offers another example of the rewards that can come through the joy of discovery. While Hectorne makes no attempt to bend the boundaries as far as a patented Americana sound is concerned, the success he achieves here is the result of him doing quite the opposite, that is, sounding like a revered veteran who mastered the form quite quickly in his career.  »»»
Hallelujah Nights CD review - Hallelujah Nights
LANCO's "Greatest Love Story" is a radio single saturated in undeniable warmth and sweetness. But then, the attitude in "We Do" reeks of Florida Georgia Line and the chorus to "Singin' at The Stars" also brings country music's most annoying duo to mind. LANCO is a new act, and the jury's still on just which direction this five-piece will go. »»»
Ruins CD review - Ruins
With their stunning new album "Ruins," First Aid Kit further ascend to unexpected heights of superstardom, a status a few knowing pundits have been predicting for the Swedish sisters since the beginning. »»»