Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday mieography

My Thursday 13 yesterday got me thinking....
When I was a kid, we had this record. And I loved the lady's voice. I can't describe it. Or why I liked it. It seems to me that you either love Tammy Wynette, or you don't. There is no in between. But she had an interesting life....

She was born Virginia Wynette Pugh in Mississippi, an only child. She was always called Wynette, or Nettie, never Virginia. Her Dad was a farmer, and local musician who died of a brain tumor when she was nine months old. Her Mom was a substitute teacher, and worked on the family farm. She pretty much gave her daughter over to her parents to raise, and went to Memphis to work in a WW II defense plant. She eventually remarried.

Tammy stayed on her grandparents farm, near the Mississippi/Alabama border. She worked in the fields, picking cotton with the hired hands. She taught herself to play the instruments that her father had left behind, and sang gospel with her grandmother.
As she grew up, she found country music to her liking, especially Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and George Jones. She played their records over and over on a children's record player she owned. It was all she had. She dreamt of being a star, herself.
She went to high school, where she was an all star basket ball player. A month before she graduated, she married her first husband, Euple Byrd. He worked construction, and had trouble keeping a job, so they moved several times. She worked as a waitress, receptionist, barmaid, and in a shoe factory. She eventually went to beauty school in Tupelo, Miss., and became a hairdresser. She renewed her cosmetology license every year, for the rest of her life, just in case.
She left her husband, just before the birth of their third daughter. He did not support her dream of country music, telling her to "Dream On, Baby".
Her baby got spinal meningitis, and she made extra money performing at night. She began performing on local television shows, eventually ending up on the Porter Wagoner Show. She moved herself, and her daughters to Nashville, trying to get a recording contract. She was eventually given a contract at Epic Records, with producer Billy Sherrill, after he heard her sing "Apartment No. 9". Sherrill suggested she change her name, and he threw in the name "Tammy" because when he saw her, she reminded him of Debbie Reynolds in those Tammy movies she did. Thus, she became Tammy Wynette. Her first release was Apartment No. 9, and was followed by many songs, including "I don't Wanna Play House" (a song that brings tears to my eyes), for which she won a Grammy. After that, she had 5 number one hits, including D I V O R C E, and Stand By Your Man. She wrote that song with Billy Sherrill, and it stirred up much controversy and criticism because it basically said to stay with the man, despite his faults of oh, say, adultery? Despite that, it was a very successful song, and is now considered a "standard". She ruled the country charts, along with Loretta Lynn, during the 70's. She had a huge string of number one hits. She even had one in Italy. About this time, she started doing duets with George Jones. She had married her second husband, and had that marriage annulled, and was married to Jones from 1969-1975. They had a very tempestuous relationship, George's alcoholism played a large roll in that. Even after they divorced, they continued their collaboration together. They had one daughter together. In 1975, her house was burnt down.
Her popularity slowed in the late 70's, though she still continued to work. She married again, but this one ended up getting annulled, as well. She married George Richey in 1978, and he was, by all accounts, the love of her life. He was also her longest marriage, they were together until she died, and he brought a much needed stability to her life. Interestingly enough, there was also report of her being kidnapped and badly beaten in 1978, but no "hard evidence" ever surfaced and some question whether or not it really happened. She'd also had trouble with a stalker. She had a complete total of 21 number one hits, and countless others in the top ten. A movie of her life has been made, and she continued to work. She also began to have liver problems. In 1992, Hillary Rodham Clinton was interviewed, saying" I'm not sitting here like some some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette". Tammy demanded, and received, an apology for that. In 1993, she made a record with Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn, called Honky Tonk Angels. It did well on the country charts, but not really anywhere else. She did a few more records with numerous people on them, including "One", with George Jones. not really getting any popularity. She also designed and sold her own line of jewelry, and was the voice of Hank Hill's mother, Tillie Mae, on "King of the Hill".
She suffered medical problems for years, 26 major surgeries, and an addiction to pain medications. She died in 1998, in her sleep, of a blood clot to her lungs. She performed up until right before her death.


Daryl said...

Fascinating ... I have a double disc CD anthology of her songs someone gave us for Xmas a long time ago and it was my intro to Tammy... and I now have it on my iPod


Jo Beaufoix said...

That was great Mie. She did a song with KLF when I was younger which were a dance group. I loved that she did that as it showed she didn't take herself too seriously.