Tommy Overstreet was a countrypolitan-styled singer who achieved his greatest success in the early '70s, although he probably gained his most significant exposure as a frequent guest on the program Hee Haw. He was born on September 10, 1937, in Oklahoma City, and an early interest in music was encouraged by his cousin Gene Austin, a singer who had garnered some fame in the 1920 with records like "My Blue Heaven" and "Ramona." In his teens, he began performing pop music on radio stations in the Houston, TX, area and appeared in a musical titled Hit the Road. While studying broadcasting at the University of Texas, he began playing in local clubs under the name Tommy Dean From Abilene and toured frequently with Austin.
After a stint in the Army, Overstreet moved to Los Angeles in the early '60s to begin a songwriting career, contributing material to pop crooner Pat Boone. He also signed a recording deal, although none of his studio work from the period was ever issued. After returning to Texas, he began appearing on the TV program The Slim Willet Show and formed his own group to play club dates. In 1967, he moved to Nashville, where he became the regional professional manager of Dot Records in addition to signing with the label as a recording artist. His debut single, 1969's "Rocking a Memory (That Won't Go to Sleep)," was a minor hit, and his next record, "If You're Looking for a Fool," did even better. In 1971, he scored his first smash with "Gwen (Congratulations)," the title track from his debut LP, followed by "I Don't Know You (Anymore)."
In 1972, Overstreet scored his biggest hit, "Ann (Don't Go Runnin)," which reached number two on the charts. A series of Top Ten hits followed, among them the same year's "Heaven Is My Woman's Love," 1974's "(Jeannie Marie) You Were a Lady," and 1975's "That's When My Woman Begins." Although he continued to chart throughout the 1970s, he failed to reach the same heights he did in the first half of the decade. Overstreet's hitmaking days were largely over by the 1980s, but he remained a popular concert draw and continued touring with his group the Nashville Express. ~ Jason Ankeny