Seventy-five years ago today on May 5th 1942, in tiny Tremont, Mississippi, Virginia Wynette Pugh was born. She would, of course, gain worldwide fame as one of the greatest country singers of all time, Tammy Wynette. A beauty-school student in Tupelo, Wynette married first husband Euple Byrd and the couple moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where she would continue her beautician education at Dolly Pardon’s American Beauty College, its name humorously similar to that of one of Wynette’s best friends throughout her life once she moved to Nashville.
Once in Music City, with songwriter-producer Billy Sherrill at the helm of her recording career, the singer, now christened Tammy Wynette, would unleash a remarkable streak of some of the most influential singles in country-music history: “Apartment #9,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Stand By Your Man,” and later a string of chart-topping duets with third husband George Jones, to whom she was married from 1969 to 1975. Wynette’s life was tragically shortened by a series of illnesses and she died on April 6th, 1998 at just 55 years old. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame that year.
In 1983, TV star Robert Urich hosted an NBC special called Country Gold at Nashville‘s Grand Ole Opry House, spotlighting music from Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings and Wynette, among others. Wynette’s trademark voice, with its dramatic tear-stained catch, is in fine form as she delivers a memorable medley of the above-mentioned tunes, although only “Stand By Your Man” is performed in full, owing to its well-deserved status as Wynette’s signature song. The singer, who plays with the tune’s last “man” as the song ends, even holds up both hands with double peace-signs for the audience, earning a standing ovation for her bravura performance.
A former factory in Tremont, Mississippi, is currently being converted into a museum dedicated to the star, with a nearby TammyWynetteLegacyPark also in the works.