On July 16, 2012, the world of country music lost one of its few remaining stars from honky-tonk’s mid century golden age. Kitty Wells, known as The Queen of Country Music, died at her home in Madison, Tennessee. She was 92.
Her death was confirmed by her grandson John Sturdivant Jr., revealing that the country legend died of complications from a stroke.
With a career spanning eight decades, Wells continued to hold onto her crown as the country’s leading female singer who kicked in the door of the male-dominated genre in the early 1950s.
Upon hearing about her death, women in country music from different eras were quick to express how much influence Wells had in their careers. This includes Loretta Lynn, who confessed to wanting to sound just like Wells when she was younger. She would have never been a singer if she had never heard of Wells, she said. Meanwhile, Reba McEntire referred to Wells as the trailblazer for all the ladies in the genre.
Dolly Parton, on the other hand, expressed how much of an inspiration Wells was. “Kitty Wells was the first and only Queen of Country Music, no matter what they call the rest of us,” she said.
Country Music’s First Female Superstar
Kitty Wells‘ husband of more than seven decades, fellow country singer Johnnie Wright, died nearly a year before the country music legend’s death. He essentially managed Wells’ renowned career and helped her become the first female country artist to find steady success. Wells’ 1952 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” made her the first female to score a No. 1 hit on the country charts. It even crossed over to the pop charts.
Truly, Kitty Wells is a one-woman-of-a-kind! Kitty Wells songs about postwar life’s real struggles and the miserable side of domesticity will forever haunt our hearts.