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November 7

A Cheatin’ Song by the Kendalls, “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away”

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A Cheatin’ Song by the Kendalls, “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” 1

The Kendalls, Royce and Jeannie landed big with their fifth chart appearance with “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away.” It was a gigantic record, from an album that was recorded in a single day. They had all their materials prepared and they went in and cut the LP in three sessions. During those sessions, they only had one-hour breaks. Those hour-long breaks gave Royce time to work in the other studio to lay extra harmony onto the tracks. The next night, he and the engineer mixed and fixed the final takes. All in all, it took them only a day and a night to completed the project.

Royce and his daughter Jeannie found “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” a couple of months before that fateful day. The songwriter, Jerry Gillespie approached them at a Nashville recording studio. Gillespie was a song that he thought would be perfect for their unique harmony blend. They had to wait to record it since they were unsigned during that time. Once the Ovation label added them to its roster, the Kendalls earmarked “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” from the first. Royce felt the song had a “catchy” melody, thinking that was a good indication for attracting listeners and producing a hit.

Unexpectedly, Ovation didn’t foresee “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” as a hit. Instead, a cover of Kitty Wells’ 1955 smash “Making Believe” was tapped as the album’s first single. Almost at the same time, Emmylou Harris released her version of that song, ending any hopes for the Kendalls. The label moved on and selected “Live And Let Live” as a second single and relegated “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” to the “B” side. However, many stations started flipping the record over so Ovation went to work promoting “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away.” The song entered Billboard’s country singles chart at a modest #77 on August 6, 1977, and nine weeks later, on October 8th, it began a one-month run at the top. Though it embraced a “cheatin’” theme, the song also amazingly gained heavy airplay on many gospel radio stations.

During the course of 1978, the record brought the Kendalls a Grammy award and the Country Music Association trophy for Single of the Year. On November 30, 1982, the album Royce and Jeannie had recorded in a single day was certified gold for selling 500,000 units.


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