The country music world lost Kitty Wells in 2012 when she passed away in her home in Madison, Tennessee, but the country singer's legacy will live on forever. Dubbed "The Queen of Country Music," The singer of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was a groundbreaking country star and a pioneer for female country singers. Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, and more owe her a debt they can only pay forward. Why? Because she was the first female country music star to ever top the Billboard country charts. She's not just the Queen of Country Music -- she once ruled Nashville.
In 1976, Wells was deservedly elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. In fact, Wells was only the third country music artist, after Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, to win the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In honor of Wells, here are five things you might not have known about the country music star.
1. Based on Where She Was Born, She Was Destined for Country Stardom
Ellen Muriel Deason aka Kitty Wells (her stage name) was born in Nashville, Tennessee on August 30th, 1919. But it wasn't just the city she was born into that was destiny. Her father, Charles and his brother (her uncle) were musicians and her mother, Myrtle, was a gospel singer. Even the man she married at 18, Johnnie Wright, was a musician who eventually formed the duo Johnnie & Jack.
2. She Almost Gave Up at the Worst Possible Time
Right before she recorded "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" Kitty Wells was considering quiting for good. Hey, show biz is hard. Fortunately, Paul Cohen, an exec at Decca Records, asked her to record one more song. She agreed because it paid $125. Next thing you know, she's an American icon. That was close!
3. Her Biggest Hit Was a Clap Back
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was an answer song to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life", which made women seem seductive and promiscuous. As wells sang, "It's a shame that all the blame is on us women."
4. Her Biggest Hit Also Got Banned
As Elvis and Mark Twain can tell you, all getting banned does is make your work more desirable and legendary, so it's a wonder anyone ever bans this stuff. But that's what happened with Wells' biggest hit. The Grand Ole Opry and NBC originally banned the song for what they deemed suggestive lyrics.
5. Much Of Her Original Recordings Are (Reportedly) Lost Forever
According to the New York Times, the masters of several Kitty Wells recordings are among those allegedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. So the next time you hear her on the jukebox or on a radio station, be thankful you can hear her at all. Talk about heartbreak U.S.A.
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