Tammy Wynette, one of the most iconic country music stars of all time, had a life filled with both success and struggles. From her early years as a struggling single mother to her rise to fame and multiple marriages, here is a look at the life of the beloved artist.
Early Life and First Marriage
Tammy Wynette was born Virginia Wynette Pugh in 1942 in Mississippi. She married her first husband, Euple Byrd, at the young age of 18 in 1960. Their marriage was tumultuous, with Byrd being an in-and-out-of-employment construction worker, and the couple moved frequently. Despite the challenges, Wynette gave birth to two daughters by the time she was 20 and was pregnant with their third when she left Byrd.
Move to Nashville and Second Marriage
In 1966, Wynette moved to Nashville with her three children to pursue her dream of being a singer. She signed her first record deal soon after and married songwriter Don Chapel the following year. Her career began to take off, and she was soon introduced to country music icon George Jones, whom she had idolized since childhood.
Jones and Wynette fell in love while she was still married to Chapel, and she eventually left him to be with Jones. They married in 1969, and their daughter was gifted with a recording contract upon her birth. Despite their success, the marriage was plagued by Jones’ alcoholism, and they divorced in 1975.
Third and Fourth Marriages
In 1977, Wynette shocked the tabloids by marrying businessman Michael Tomlin after dating several men, including Jones and Burt Reynolds. However, the marriage was short-lived, and they split up after less than two months.
Wynette’s final marriage was to singer-songwriter George Richey in 1978. However, her daughters later claimed that Richey abused their mother, and the couple made up an abduction story to explain the severe bruises on Wynette’s body. They also accused Richey of contributing to their mother’s death through drug dependency and sued him for wrongful death.
Legacy and Impact
Tammy Wynette’s impact on country music cannot be overstated. She was one of the genre’s most successful and beloved artists, with hits like “Stand by Your Man” and “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Her personal life was tumultuous, but her music spoke to the struggles and triumphs of many women.
In 1998, Wynette passed away at the age of 55 due to complications from surgery. She was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and her music continues to inspire and resonate with fans to this day.