Penned by Kenny O’Dell, Mama, He’s Crazy is recorded by American country music duo The Judds. Released in April 1984, it is the second single from the album Wynonna & Naomi.
The song was The Judds’ second country hit and the first of fourteen number one country hits. Moreover, the single went to number one for one week and spent a total fourteen weeks on the country chart.
Mama, He’s Crazy was the second country number one sung by a female duo ever. Furthermore, the song earned The Judds their first Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The Story Behind
Songwriter Kenny O’Dell got the idea for Mama, He’s Crazy after being sucked into a soap opera his wife watched every day.
Eventually, he discovered then the actor who would one day sing it when Wynonna and Naomi Judd made an early career appearance on Ralph Emery’s Show.
In an interview with Nashville Songwriters Association International correspondent Bart Herbison, O’Dell told the story behind this 1984 hit.
“I used to work out of my home. Every day, around 11 or 12 o’clock, I would take a break and my wife would fix me some lunch, and I’d work out a poem. Well, there happened to be a soap opera that was on every day. We kind of got locked into it when my wife got me watching it.”
When asked about the female character in the soap opera, O’Dell answered,
“Yes, there was a daughter and a mama. The daughter was talking about her boyfriend who was a rancher. That’s where his heart was. There was talk of building oil wells on this beautiful ranch they had. Well, the rancher didn’t want to have anything to do with development.”
“The daughter was telling her mother about her boyfriend’s passion for ranching and his disdain for oil wells and developing. His boyfriend told her, “Well if they start building oil wells on my ranch out there, I’m going to just blow things up.”
“That shocked her and she was thinking, “This guy’s got a short fuse.”
“She’s telling her mother about this, about her boyfriend. She’s worried about this temper that he has.”
She says, “Mama, he’s threatening if they build oil wells out there, he’s going to blow them up and all that goes with it.”
She says, “It scares me. He’s nuts. He’ll go ballistic.”
She said, “Mama, he’s crazy.”
The Song and The Judds
Nashville used to have a local TV show on WMSV Channel 4 with the great Ralph Emery. It was his morning show. There were a mother and a daughter on that show that Kenny O’Dell and his wife used to watch in the morning. Their name was The Judds – Wynonna and Naomi Judds.
O’Dell’s wife said,
“Babe, why don’t you see if you can connect with them? They sound awfully good.”
“Well, I could try. You never know.”
And from there, the journey of The Judds to stardom began.
Watch and sing with The Judds’ Mama, He’s Crazy.
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[…] success in the summer of 1984,” the Judds had their first no. 1 hit with the Kenny O’Dell song "Mama He’s Crazy." After it reached the summit on Billboard’s country singles chart, RCA set them to work on a […]