Music

Flashback: Tanya Tucker Explains Her Frog-Jumping Contest Origins on 'American Bandstand'

https://youtu.be/YEq5YdCyX14

Young Tanya Tucker's whirlwind ride landed her on American Bandstand, where she got interviewed in 1976 by America's oldest teenager, Dick Clark.

Once Clark stopped gushing over Tucker's older sister and fellow country singer LaCosta, he got the skinny on the Texas-born teen's first paying gig.

Tucker says it was a frog-jumping contest in Calaveras County, and it paid about $50.

Presumably, she's talking about Calaveras County, California, and the frog-jumping get-together was none other than the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee. It's a long-running (and, uh, long-jumping) event that's been held since the 1930's in honor of the short story that launched Mark Twain's career, 1865's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

It's not the quaint, rural backstory you might've wanted, but still, it's quite the start for an entertainer just a few years removed from Elvis Presley comparisons.

Tucker had a Top 10 hit at age 12 with 1972's "Delta Dawn." The Billy Sherrill-produced title track of Tucker's Columbia Records debut set the bar for every every country music prodigy to follow. And that wasn't even the beginning of Tucker's stay in the public light. At age 11, she started performing in Las Vegas at the behest of country music legend Mel Tillis.

She went on to earn six No. 1 country songs before she turned 20: "What's Your Mama's Name," "Blood Red and Goin' Down," "Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)," "Lizzie and the Rainman," "San Antonio Stroll" and "Here's Some Love."

Industry honors in that same span include three consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominations (1973-1975).

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Tucker's adult years have added to her legend, with "Just Another Love," "If It Don't Come Easy," "Strong Enough to Bend" and Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet collaboration "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" upping her No. 1 tally to 10 in the '80s.

In 2014, Strong Enough to Bend became the title of Tucker's own limited-run exhibit at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Her 2019 album While I'm Livin' was produced by Shooter Jennings and Brandi Carlile. It won Tucker her first two Grammy Awards: Best Country Album and Best Country Song for "Bring My Flowers Now."

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Flashback: Tanya Tucker Explains Her Frog-Jumping Contest Origins on 'American Bandstand'