Posted by themusicsover on July 16, 2012
Kitty Wells (Born Ellen Deason)
August 30, 1919 – July 16, 2012
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Kitty Wells was actually one of a very few country music stars who were actually born in Music City. Wells launched her music career when she was around 17, at first singing on a local radio station with her sisters as the Deason Sisters. At 18, she married Johnnie Wright and went on to perform with him. In 1952, just as she was was eying a life beyond show business, Decca Records asked her to record “It Wasn’t God Who Made The Honky Tonk Angels” as an answer song to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side Of Life.” Since she could use the $125 payment at the time, she reluctantly agreed, having no idea that the song would become a life-changing hit for her. Recorded by the legendary Owen Bradley, the single was initially banned from many radio stations due to its title and the subversive idea that God in fact, did not make honky-tonk angels. But it became a massive hit, selling over 800,000 copies during its initial release. It ultimately reached #1 on the country music charts making Wells the first female to ever accomplish that feat. It remained at the top for eight weeks and even cracked the top 30 of the pop charts. The song went on to become Wells’ signature song. Meanwhile, she continued to release hit singles and albums through the ’50s and early ’60s, but by the late ’60s, her record sales were dwindling, so she launched her own syndicated television show, The Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show, again, the first female country star to do so. She continued to release albums tour well into the ’80s – although the crowds were smaller, they were no less enthusiastic about hearing her hits. In 1991, Wells was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. She and Wright remained married until his passing in 2011 – one of the longest celebrity marriages ever. On July 16, 2011, Kitty Wells died following a stroke. She was 92.