Perhaps there’s no female country star that can convey the emotion of grief and heartache like Tammy Wynette did! During the course of a career that spanned 32 years, she sang about things most country fans could relate to, like divorce, parenting, and being alone. Tammy Wynette songs skyrocketed to the pinnacle of the Billboard Country Charts – playing a very influential role for women in the genre today.
Sadly, Tammy Wynette‘s private life was as tumultuous as most of her tunes. You can check out these facts about the First Lady of Country Music.
1. She’s a native of Tremont, Mississippi.
Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on May 5, 1942, the country singer was the only child of a father who was a farmer and local musician and a schoolteacher mother. Sadly, Wynette’s father died when she was only nine months old. No longer capable of taking care of her, Wynette’s mother left her with her grandparents – where she grew up picking cotton as a youngster to survive.
2. She was a star basketball player.
She attended Tremont High School, where she was a leading scorer on the school’s basketball team.
3. She taught herself to play musical instruments that her father had left behind.
During her teenage years, country music became her escape from her difficult life. Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves, and Patsy Cline are just some of the stars she listened to on the radio. She also learned to play various instruments, like guitar and piano.
4. She married young.
Only a month before graduating high school, at the age of 17, Wynette married her first husband, a construction worker, Euple Byrd – which led to her automatic expulsion as it was against the school district rules. Unfortunately for Wynette, the marriage was a rocky one.
5. She worked different jobs to support her children.
Her early jobs included working as a waitress, a doctor’s receptionist, a barmaid, and in a shoe factory.
6. She kept her beautician license up to date.
Wynette attended beauty school, where she gained her cosmetology license. She would renew it regularly for the rest of her life in the event she would need to go back to a day-to-day job.
7. She married five times.
This included marriages to fellow country legend George Jones and one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men, Burt Reynolds.
8. She’s close friends with Dolly Parton.
As country artists who both made their breakthroughs in the ’60s, the two have remained close. In fact, as Wynette was nearing the end of her life, Dolly Parton would visit her in the hospital to do her hair and nails.
9. She had at least 26 major surgeries throughout the span of her life.
Wynette had several serious physical ailments starting 1970s. This included the removal of some of her small organs, as well as the nodules on her vocal cords, among others. She eventually died on April 6, 1998, at age 55.
Indeed, these facts about Tammy Wynette show there was no shortage of drama in her life.