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May 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas
"Tammy Wynette, Mysteries from the Grave"
by Sharon Haynes

Sharon Haynes

"Tammy Wynette, Mysteries from the Grave"

Hi, everybody, Sharon Haynes here… my featured artist of this month for Insider Viewpoint Magazine is about Tammy Wynette.

Tammy Wynette, the name is synonymous with being one of the greatest Country Music Singers and Writers of all time. She also became a pop-cross over artist with multiple songs she sang and penned; Grammy Award Recipient, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year (for several years), ACM Top Female Vocalist; and so many accomplishments in the music industry that it is staggering.

The story begins in Itawamba County, Mississippi on May 5, 1942 as a frail little country girl was born, "Wynette Pugh." Her childhood was difficult and she was raised "picking cotton" for her grandparents.

Tammy was one of the 2500+ artists with whom THE JORDANAIRES recorded their famed background vocals. They performed on almost every hit record that Tammy Wynette recorded, totaling an amazing forty-seven sessions of at least four singles per session, on Epic Records. They contributed on such great songs as "Stand by Your Man," "Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad," "He Loves Me All the Way," "I Don’t Wanna Play House"; and a couple hundred others.

Additional musical recording sessions with Tammy included seventeen sessions with her and George Jones ("Golden Ring," "We’re Gonna Hold On," "Near You" . . . and many others). Besides recording sessions, they recorded a Pepsi commercial, a special appearance at the White House, a Mardi Gras Event in New Orleans, and two Opryland Concerts with her.

Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires says Tammy was "a sweet, kind person who was always obliging to everyone including her fans." The Jordanaires greatly loved and admired Tammy and were great friends. She was always inviting them to her house to cook them a good country down-home meal!

Gordon said, "Tammy always remembered draggin’ that bag of cotton behind her on her grandparents’ farm. Because of these humble beginnings, Tammy also chose to keep her hairdresser’s license as a just in case music business did not work out . . . even years after she had many hit records."

Ray Walker, bass singer of the Jordanaires, sold Tammy her first stretch-limousine after she had a couple hit records.

He had bought the royal-blue 1967 Cadillac Limousine from the Oak Ridge Boys and owned the car for a few months when Tammy and her second husband Don Chapel wanted it, so Ray sold them their first limousine.

I, Sharon Haynes, had the pleasure of working with Don Chapel, it was my first "gig" in Nashville. Don and his son Mike offered me a singing job in a couple of Nashville clubs, one at the famed Printers Alley. For several days I did not realize I was working with Tammy Wynette’s Ex-husband and Stepson.

Don and Mike both talked about how much they loved Tammy. Both felt Don never received his due from his direct involvement in the launching of her career. Don said, "I cleaned her up . . . when I found her, she was skinny and nearly starving to death with three young daughters. She had just moved to Nashville and was trying to pursue the path of Country Music Stardom. Tammy was broke and no place to go. Don said, I took them in, fixed her teeth and bought her new clothes for the introduction to Billy Sherrill, I insisted Billy hear her songs. Billie immediately signed her to Epic Records."

Shortly afterwards George Jones wanted to record duets with Tammy and reportedly fell in love with Tammy and decided to take her away from Don. Don said, "George Jones walked into my house, took Tammy by the arm and said, I’m in love with your wife, and she’s leaving with me." Don and Tammy’s marriage ended and she married the already famous, George Jones.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tammy Wynette in Wembley, England during a performance with The Jordanaires. They billed us with Tammy and several Opry stars on the "International Country Music Festival" held in the Wembley Stadium. As they were introducing me to Tammy, she gave me a big smile and hug. I was so impressed. A star of her stature still remaining so open, warm and approachable was impressive, she still revered the humbling effect of those "cotton pickin’ days!"

A few months ago, during a break from our show, I watched the Tammy Wynette Biography on A&E on TV. The very next morning at 6:00 a.m. I awoke to the news that Tammy Wynette was dead. "How can that be . . . I’ve seen her all my life . . . DEAD?! A mother of four, a series of four divorces and five marriages created tremendous pressures, stressed and coupled with work expectations, the overall demands on her were monumental.

Various illnesses had driven her, at times, to become addicted to prescription pain medication for which she received therapy. What happened in her final moments of life and immediately following, is still a mystery and the investigation is ongoing even today! The investigation is going to be messy.

Tammy, I sing your praises and salute you… you gave us love, kindness, and music—totally and unselfishly. We will miss you. Whatever circumstances may unfold regarding passing at such a young age will matter only on this side of life—for now the Good Lord will keep her in his care. She was a giver. The world will continue to enjoy her music, even after her death, we will always hear that beautiful voice. Rest in Peace, Our Queen of Country Music. IVLV


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