Kitty Wells, country music star, dies at 92

Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:49pm EDT
 
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By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Kitty Wells, the "Queen of Country Music" who opened the door to a host of female country music headliners, died on Monday at her home in Nashville of complications from a stroke. She was 92.

Among those mourning her passing was Loretta Lynn, whose own rise to popularity came after Wells, who paved the way for strong female voices in country music. "Kitty Wells will always be the greatest female country singer of all times," said Lynn in a statement released on her web site.

"She was my hero. If I had never heard of Kitty Wells, I don't think I would have been a singer myself. I wanted to sound just like her, but as far as I am concerned, no one will ever be as great as Kitty Wells.

"She truly is the Queen of Country Music."

Wells, born as Ellen Muriel Deason, actually began performing on local radio in Nashville, but her ascent to stage stardom began in 1937 with husband Johnnie Wright, half of the duo Johnnie & Jack. He died in 2011.

She was the first female singer to reach the top of the country charts with her 1952 song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," an answer to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," which made the argument God indeed makes such angels.

Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976.

"Kitty Wells was a 33-year-old wife and mother when her immortal recording of ‘It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels' suddenly made her a star," according to the Hall of Fame's biography.   Continued...

 
Kitty Wells is inducted into CMA's Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976 on the CMA Awards.REUTERSCountry Music Association/Handout