Tammy Wynette 1942-1998

  • Share
  • Read Later
Tammy Wynette, known as "The First Lady of Country Music" and world-renowned for her 1968 hit "Stand by Your Man," died in her sleep at her Nashville home Monday of an apparent blood clot. She was 55.

Wynette's family said she had been battling a degenerative disease for the last several years, and her condition had been deteriorating.

"Stand By Your Man" figured in the 1992 U.S. presidential elections when Hillary Rodham Clinton said scornfully in a TV interview that she was not defending her husband from accusations of adultery because she was "some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." (No shrinking violet, Wynette angrily replied that Mrs. Clinton "offended every true country music fan and every person who has 'made it on their own' with no one to take them to a White House.")

The blonde, Mississippi-born singer, who left a beauty shop in Birmingham, Ala., to break into the Nashville music business, cut her first single in 1966 and over the next 30 years recorded more than 50 albums and sold more than 30 million records. Among her other big hits were "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "Two-Story House."

Tammy and her third husband, George Jones, were famous for their duets, and for their fights -- all of which were well documented in the press, as was her bankruptcy and (still unsolved) kidnapping in the '70s. In all, she was married five times: to her high school sweetheart Euple Byrd; singer Don Chapel; Jones; Nashville real estate executive Michael Tomlin; and singer-songwriter George Richey, who survives her, as do five daughters, a son and seven grandchildren.