Tuesday, July 21, 2009

By any name, the queen of country

She was so good she might have made it as Virginia Pugh, but Billy Sherrill had another idea.

And as a result, few ever started off as quickly as Tammy Wynette. After making her Top 40 debut in April 1967 with "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad'' (which topped out at No. 3), nine of her next 11 songs made it to No. 1 on Billboard's country chart.

In July of 1970 Wynette's "He Loves Me All the Way'' became her eighth No. 1 in three years, following what might be regarded as one of the biggest 1-2 punches in country music history: "D-I-V-O-R-C-E'' and "Stand By Your Man'' (ranked Nos. 34 and 1, respectively, on CMT's 100 Greatest Country Songs). "Stand By Your Man'' also became her one crossover hit, rising to No. 19 on the pop chart.

It must have been a tough time to be Loretta Lynn, who scored three No. 1s of her own during this stretch but watched Wynette win three consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards.

Wynette would ultimately have 20 No. 1 songs in a magical teaming with Sherrill, the Epic Records producer. That's a career worthy of Hall of Fame status -- which she easily secured shortly after her death in 1998 at age 55. It's that she scored nearly half of those chart-toppers in just three years in Music City.

Go to her MySpace page and give "You and Me'' a listen. Amazing.

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