Wells Was Country Music’S First Queen


Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells

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On July 16, 2012, at the age of 92, country singer Kitty Wells died at home in Madison, Tenn., from complications of a stroke. She certainly will be missed by all of us who appreciated her music.

It was in March 1952, when newcomer Wells first appeared on Billboard’s country music chart with her debut song, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”

The 33-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist, one of the few country music stars actually born in Nashville, Tenn., found instant success with her first song. The single quickly climbed to number one and remained atop the chart for six weeks. It later would earn induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Following her smash hit, Kitty, with her distinctive, high-pitched (at times piercing to my ears), twang-y drawl sound, went on to chart 81 singles. From 1952 through 1979, she had an amazing 34 songs reach country’s Top 10, including her other number one hit, 1961’s “Heartbreak U.S.A.”

In 1976, Kitty was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and with good reason. Known as the “Queen of Country Music,” she broke down the doors for female country singers, paving the way for artists like Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn.

During the ’80s, her activity slowed. In addition to running a museum outside of Nashville, she toured with her husband and frequently appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1991, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.

This week’s music trivia question is: Kitty Wells’ 1952 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was an “answer song” to Hank Thompson’s classic hit earlier that year. In Hank’s song, the male singer claims that the glamour of the gay nightlife has lured his wife to “the places where the wine and liquor flows, where you wait to be anybody’s baby and forget the truest love you’ll ever know. I didn’t know God made honky tonk angels. I might have known you’d never make a wife.”

Kitty responded in song — “It wasn’t God who made honky tonk angels, as you said in the words of your song. Too many times married men think they’re still single, that has caused many a good girl to go wrong.”

Was the name of Hank Thompson’s hit, to which Kitty was responding: A) “The Wild Side Of Life”; B) “Honky Tonk Girl”; C) “Anybody’s Girl”; or D) “I Find You Cheatin’ On Me.”

Be the fourth caller with the correct answer this week and you’ll win a CD of the very best easy listening songs of the 1950s — which includes songs by such artists as Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Patti Page, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis and many more.

Last week’s Music Trivia Question

This past week’s trivia question asked if you could name the popular early 1950s singer who scored a number one hit with her 1954 version of the song “This Ole House?” Was she A) Doris Day; B) Jo Stafford; C) Rosemary Clooney; or D) Anna Van Zile?

The correct answer was Rosemary Clooney. Doris Day and Jo Stafford were also very popular and successful singers in the 1950s. Anna Van Zile is the new principal at Payson High School. We wish her well during her rookie year in her new position at the school.

Congratulations to this past week’s first-time music trivia winner, Kelly Watts of Payson, who won a CD of the very best easy listening songs of the 1950s — which he graciously donated back as this week’s trivia prize.

Kelly becomes this music column’s first winner to send in his trivia answer via e-mail (which he obtained from visiting my Web site). All other answers have come by telephone.

An eight-year resident of Payson, Kelly was born in Canto, Pa. and grew up in nearby Montoursville.

During his senior year in high school, he began a lifetime career in the broadcasting business, where he worked in “about every facet of small market radio,” said Kelly. “Over the course of my music career, I loved what I did and I was fortunate enough to be able to interview 60 well-known music artists, which included my three favorites, Brenda Lee, the Four Aces and the Fleetwoods.”

After moving to Payson “for the weather” in 2004, Kelly accepted a DJ position at KMOG Radio Station. He and his wife, Carol, now operate their own business, the “Carol and Kelly Travel” agency from their home. They have been married for 31 years.

When Kelly isn’t busy with the family travel agency, he enjoys taking cruises, trains and trolleys, and listening to jazz, blues and the oldies-but-goodies from the 1950s and ’60s. For 20 years, he was a fire and rescue volunteer.

Correction

In last week’s column, I wrote that the July 21 concert at Green Valley Park would be the last performance of the series. I was wrong.

My thanks to reader, Nancy Holcombe, who e-mailed me to set me straight. The last concert of this year’s summer series will be this Saturday night, July 28, with the local blues group, the John Scott Band, performing a two-hour show, beginning at 7 p.m.

With John as lead vocal and guitarist, Jeff Smith on drums and Tom Edny on bass guitar, the decade year-old band regularly plays at Sidewinders in Pine and at other local venues.

My apologies for any inconvenience my goof-up in reporting may have caused.

I hope you enjoy this Saturday’s final concert of the outdoor series.

DJ Craig

(928) 468-1482

www.djcraiginpayson.com

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