Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Kitty Wells (1919-2012)

“The next young country starlet with a beehive is going straight to the top.” -- Webb Wilder, 2007

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Kitty Wells was one of the few country singers to have actually been born in Nashville, who married at eighteen to the man with whom she stayed married for over seventy years (one of the longest celebrity marriages in history), before his passing last year.

Her 1952 hit recording, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was a response to Hank Thompson's number one recording, “The Wild Side of Life” ("I didn't know God made honky tonk angels ..."), using the same melody, with lyrics by Jimmy D Miller.* It made her the first female country singer to top the country charts, and ostensibly the first female country star -- yes, even before Patsy Cline (and, as far as this writer is concerned, only if you don't count Mother Maybelle Carter). Wells is shown here performing her signature hit at the Grand Olde Opry, in an undated (probably 1952) recording.

Kitty Wells died this past Monday of complications from a stroke. She was 92.

* The song also shares the melody with two other country classics; The Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" and Roy Acuff's "The Great Speckled Bird."
 

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