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Tuesday, April 7, 1998 Published at 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK


World: Americas

Country music's First Lady Tammy dies at 55

Tammy Wynette's personal life was rocky and sometimes bizarre

Country and Western singer Tammy Wynette has died at the age of 55.

Ms Wynette, who had a history of health problems, died on Monday at her home in Nashville, Tennessee. Her spokeswoman said she believed the star died of a blood clot.

Dubbed the "First Lady of country music", Ms Wynette was most well known for her 1968 hit Stand by Your Man, which she co-wrote with her producer Billy Sherrill.

She won the Country Music Association's female vocalist of the year award three times, recorded more than 50 albums and sold more than 30 million records.

Stormy marriages

Country music fans voted her worthy of legendary status in 1991 for the annual Music City News awards. She said the honour was premature.

"I don't consider myself a legend. I think it's kind of overused," Ms Wynette said.

Despite stormy marriages and long periods in hospital during her 25-year career, Tammy Wynette was known for her positive attitude.

"I've had a wonderful life," she said in 1991. "I absolutely feel I've been blessed tremendously. I can't complain at all."

The singer even became a part of the 1992 presidential campaign after Hillary Rodham Clinton, stressing that her support of her husband Bill was more than routine, told an interviewer, "I'm not sitting here like some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette."

Besides Stand by Your Man, Tammy Wynette's hits include D-I-V-O-R-C-E, I Don't Wanna Play House, Womanhood, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad, Singing My Song and The Ways to Love a Man.

In the early 90s she had number one hit in 18 countries with 'Justified & Ancient' performed alongside British dance group KLF.

Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on a cotton farm in Itawanba County, Mississippi on 5 May 1942, she worked as a beautician in Alabama before becoming one of the best-known female voices in country music.

Ms Wynette was admitted to hospital in the late 1970s having become dependent on pain-killing drugs. And in 1978, she was kidnapped and beaten after being abducted from a national shopping centre.

In May 1992, she underwent 14 hours of abdominal surgery to relieve a recurring inflammation of the bile duct. Married four times, Tammy Wynette leaves behind five daughters and one son.





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