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Kitty Wells

One of the few country stars born in Nashville, Kitty Wells (born Muriel Deason) had a string of hits from the '50s to the early '70s that earned her the title Queen of Country Music. She made her radio debut on Nashville's WSIX, where she met her future husband, Johnnie Wright of Johnnie & Jack. She began touring as part of Johnnie & Jack's show; Wright gave her the stage name, taken from an old folk ballad called "I'm A-Goin' to Marry Kitty Wells." Wells recorded unsuccessfully for RCA before switching to Decca, where she hit with 1952's "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," a response to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life." Its controversial pre-feminist lyrics, which blamed unfaithful men for creating unfaithful women, paved the way for Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette and established Wells as the first major female country star. Wells recorded a number of answer songs and remakes, but she has top-notch original material as well, including some of Harlan Howard's earliest hits.

Wells began singing as a child, learning guitar from her father. As a teenager, she sang with her sisters, who performed under the name the Deason Sisters, on a local radio station. The group began singing on the station in 1936. The following year, she married Johnnie Wright. Shortly after their marriage, Wells and Wright began performing together along with his sister, Louise Wright; they called themselves Johnnie Wright & the Harmony Girls. Jack Anglin, Louise's husband, joined the group in 1939, and they renamed the band the Tennessee Hillbillies, which would eventually evolve into the Tennessee Mountain Boys.

Anglin was drafted into the Army in 1942. Following his departure, Wright and Wells performed as a duo; it was at this time that she adopted the Kitty Wells stage name. When Anglin returned from the Army, he and Wright formed the Johnnie & Jack duo. Wells would tour with the duo, occasionally performing backup vocals. In 1946 and 1947, the duo had a regular spot at the Grand Ole Opry, and Wells rarely performed with them. However, she did sing with the pair when they joined the Louisiana Hayride in 1948.

The Louisiana Hayride helped Johnnie & Jack land a record contract with RCA Records in 1949. That same year, Wells recorded some gospel tracks -- featuring Johnnie & Jack as instrumental support -- for RCA, but they were unsuccessful. Following those recordings, Wells was more or less retired for the next few years. In 1952, Paul Cohen, an executive at Decca Records, approached Wells to record "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." Wells recorded the song and it became a smash hit, reaching number one in the summer and staying in that position for six weeks. Later in 1952, she joined the Grand Ole Opry.

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was followed by "Paying for That Back Street Affair," a response to Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair." The single reached number six in the spring of 1953, helping to establish a permanent place at the top of the charts for Wells. For the rest of the '50s, she hit the Top Ten with regularity, racking up a total of 23 Top Ten hits. In the early '60s, her career dipped slightly, but she continued to have Top Ten hits frequently. During the late '60s and '70s, Wells' streak of hits evaporated, but she managed to have a string of minor hits and remained a popular concert attraction.

In 1976, Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and with good reason. Kitty Wells broke down the doors for female country singers, paving the way for artists like Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn. During the '80s, her activity slowed -- in addition to running a museum outside of Nashville, she toured with her husband, Johnnie, and frequently appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1991, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. In July 2012 she died at home in Madison, Tennessee, from complications of a stroke; Kitty Wells was 92 years old. ~ Brian Mansfield & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Golden Country: Best Of Kitty Wells

2. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

3. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel

4. Death At The Bar

5. Make Up Your Mind

6. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

x

Track List: The Complete Country Hits

Disc 1

1. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

2. The Things I Might Have Been

3. Paying For That Back Street Affair

4. Hey Joe

5. Cheatin's A Sin

6. Release Me

7. One By One

8. I'm A Stranger In My Home

9. Thou Shalt Not Steal

10. As Long As I Live

11. Make Believe ('Til We Can Make It Come True)

12. Makin' Believe

13. Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On

14. There's Poison In Your Heart

15. I'm In Love With You

16. The Lonely Side Of Town

17. I've Kissed You My Last Time

18. You And Me

19. No One But You

20. How Far Is Heaven

21. Searching (For Someone Like You)

22. I'd Rather Stay Home

23. Repenting

24. I'm Counting On You

25. Oh, So Many Years

Disc 2

1. Three Ways (To Love You)

2. (I'll Always Be Your) Fraulein

3. One Week Later

4. I Can't Stop Loving You

5. She's No Angel

6. Jealousy

7. Touch And Go Heart

8. He's Lost His Love For Me

9. Mommy For A Day

10. All The Time

11. Your Wild Life's Gonna Get You Down

12. Amigo's Guitar

13. Left To Right

14. Carmel By The Sea

16. The Other Cheek

17. Fickle Fun

18. Heartbreak U.S.A.

19. There Must Be Another Way To Live

20. Day Into Night

21. Our Mansion Is A Prison Now

22. Unloved, Unwanted

23. Will Your Lawyer Talk To God

24. We Missed You

x

Track List: Countrypolitan Classics - Kitty Wells

1. Release Me

3. Wild Side Of Life

4. Am I That Easy To Forget

5. A Dear John Letter

6. Great Speckled Bird

7. Lord, I'm Coming Home

8. The Wild Side Of My Life

9. Searching For A Soldier's Grave

10. The Great Speckled Bird

11. Oh So Many Years

12. As Long As I Live

13. Paying For That Back Street Affair

15. You And Me

16. The Church In The Wildwood

17. Lonesome Valley

18. How Far Is Heaven

19. I've Kissed You My Last Time

20. No-One But You

21. Will Your Lawyer Talk To God?

22. Guilty

23. Hey Joe

25. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

26. One By One

27. Thou Shalt Not Steal

28. We Buried Her Beneath The Willows

29. My Mother

31. I'll Repossess My Heart

34. Lonely Side Of Town

35. Heartbreak, U.S.A.

36. This White Circle On My Finger

37. Gathering Flowers For The Masters Bouquet

38. I Searched Heaven For You

39. (I'll Always Be Your) Fraulein

40. Paper Roses

41. One Week Later

42. I'm A Stranger In My Own Home

43. Mommy For A Day

44. Dust On The Bible

45. Finally

46. Left To Right

47. Amigo's Guitar

49. Making Believe

51. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

52. A Mansion On The Hill

53. The Waltz Of The Angels

54. Mother Hold Me Tight

55. Cold Cold Heart

56. I Can't Stop Loving You

57. I'll Always Be Your Fraulein

58. My Cold Cold Heart

59. I Don’t Claim To Be An Angel

60. Searching (For Someone Like You)

x

Track List: Those Were The Days / Queens Of Country

1. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

2. Mommy For A Day

3. White Circle On My Finger

4. Left To Right

5. One By One

6. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel

7. Release Me

8. I'll Repossess My Heart

9. I've Kissed You My Last Time

10. There's A Poison In My Heart

11. Making Believe

12. As Long As I Love

13. Lonely Side Of Town

14. Password

15. Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On

16. Searching

17. Thou Shall Not Steal

18. We Belong Together You And Me

x

Track List: The Queen Of Country Music

1. Moody River

2. What Am I Living For

3. Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

4. Slowly

5. Wooden Heart

6. Heart Over Mind

7. Ev'rybody's Somebody's Fool

8. Am I That Easy To Forget

9. One More Time

10. Hello Walls

11. Your Old Love Letters

12. A Fallen Star

x

Track List: Kitty's Choice

1. Sugartime

2. Dark Moon

3. Your Cheatin' Heart

4. Beautiful Brown Eyes

5. Seven Lonely Days

6. Half As Much

7. Jambalaya (On The Bayou)

8. Jealous Heart

9. When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain

10. Bonaparte's Retreat

12. My Happiness

x

Track List: Dust On The Bible (Remastered)

1. Dust On The Bible

2. How Far Is Heaven

3. Matthew 24

4. In The Sweet By And By

5. Amazing Grace

6. Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet

7. Church In The Wildwood

8. Rank Strangers

9. He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

10. I'm Gonna Move

x

Track List: 20 Golden Hits

1. One By One

2. Dust On The Bible

4. I'Ll Repossess My Heart

5. You And Me

6. Password

7. Love Makes The World Go 'Round

8. Paper Roses

9. Gathering Flowers For The Master'S Bouquet

10. If You Love Me Let Me Know

12. Born To Lose

13. I Can'T Help It If I'M Still In Love With You

14. Honky Tonk Toys

15. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

16. One Day At A Time

17. I'Ll Hold You In My Heart

19. I'Ll Get Over You

20. Lonely Street

x

Track List: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits (Re-Recordings)

1. How Far Is Heaven

2. Heartbreak Usa

3. I'll Always Be Your Fraulein

4. Meanwhile Down At Joe's

5. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

6. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

7. From Left To Right

8. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel

9. Lonely Side Of Town

10. Makin' Believe

11. I'm Paying For That Back Street Affair

12. Mommy For A Day

13. Release Me

14. She's No Angel

15. Searching (For Someone Like You)

16. This White Circle On My Finger

17. Will Your Lawyer Talk To God

18. Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On

19. Amigo's Guitar

20. I Heard The Juke Box Playing

x

Track List: Searching

1. Love Makes The World Go 'Round

2. Makin' Believe

3. Searching

4. Mommy For A Day

5. This White Circle

6. Release Me

7. Big Truck Driving Man

8. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

9. We'll Stick Together

10. Have A Little Talk With Jesus

11. No Setting Sun

12. One By One

13. Thou Shalt Not Steal

14. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel

15. After Dark

16. There's Poison In My Heart

17. I've Kissed You My Last Time

18. Lonely Side Of Town

19. You And Me

x

Track List: I Can't Stop Loving You

1. I Can't Stop Loving You (2008)

2. Amigos Guitar

3. I'll Reposes My Heart

4. Password

5. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

6. Lost Myself A Friend (Live)

7. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel (Live)

8. After Dark (Live)

9. One By One (Live)

10. Poison In Your Heart (Live)

11. My Last Time (Live)

12. Lonely Side Of Town (Live)

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Kitty Wells

1. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

6. Searching (For Someone Like You)

7. I Can't Stop Loving You

8. Mommy For A Day

9. Amigo's Guitar

10. Heartbreak U.S.A.

11. Will Your Lawyer Talk To God?

12. You Don't Hear

x

Track List: Country Legends - Kitty Wells

1. It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

2. Makin’ Believe

3. Heartbreak USA

4. Left To Right

5. Password

6. Release Me

7. Amigo’s Guitar

8. A Wedding Ring Ago

9. I Can’t Stop Loving You

10. We Missed You

11. Love Makes The World Go ‘Round

12. Lonely Street

13. Talk Back Trembling Lips

x

Track List: Country Music Hall Of Fame Series: Kitty Wells

1. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

2. I Heard The Jukebox Playing

3. Icicles Hanging From Your Heart

4. My Cold Cold Heart Is Melted Now

5. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

6. Release Me

7. Makin' Believe

8. I'd Rather Stay Home

9. Searching (For Someone Like You)

10. I Can't Stop Loving You

11. Mommy For A Day

12. Amigo's Guitar

13. Heartbreak, U.S.A.

14. Will Your Lawyer Talk To God?

15. Password

16. A Woman Half My Age

x

Track List: Singing On Sunday / Dust On The Bible

1. Singing On Sunday

5. The Wings Of A Dove

9. How Far Is Heaven

10. Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet

12. That Glory Bound Train

13. Dust On The Bible

14. I Dreamed I Searched Heaven For You

15. Lonesome Valley

16. My Loved Ones Are Waiting For Me

17. I Heard My Saviour Call

18. The Great Speckled Bird

19. He Will Set Your Fields On Fire

20. We Buried Her Beneath The Willows

21. (I've Got My) One Way Ticket To The Sky

22. I Need The Prayers

23. Matthew Twenty-Four

24. Lord I'm Coming Home

Comments

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Pretty song
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How did you know dolly
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The Queen-Great! !
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Love kitty
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I love her music forever
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best music ever
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Kitty Wells the queen of country ! God-Bless
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She was a AWESOME lady. I had the pleasure of meeting her and visited with her a few times. My dad has been named her # 1 fan by Kitty Well and her family. He would visit her and at her home. She was such a class act. Always down to earth and very humble. She is missed! RIP Kitty Wells. You will always be the queen of country music! :)
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A true class act!! The real queen of country!!!!
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gramlich_9
kitty wells brought me to some of the most powerful songs in country on Pandora rAdio
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Kitty is one of my favorite female singers.
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i love kitty wells
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solobase
KITTY WELLS
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Kittty is my favorite no one can do it she could. Love kitty wells
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She is the most beautiful voice that I can listen to all day long. She is my most favorite woman singer.
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I love kitty- she was the best. And always will be
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kitty, loretta, patsy had distinct voices, not like today's cookie cutter singers
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arlettes317
anne
Kitty Wells is among the greatest country singers. I love her songs. I will always listen to them
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i love about all of the country singer .
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Right on robdem11 ! The true queen of Country.
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The Queen is dead, but long will live the Queen, as long as i and any person who truly loves and understands true American music lives. I'm 66 and plan to keep her memory for another 60 years. Someone has to!
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raoppman8
Wonderful old time country
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07 16 12 a sad in country music a great lady left us R.I.P.
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RIP Miss Kitty,you;re back with Johnny and singing with the angels
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kitty wells age 92 died today well be miss billie
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she makes me want to drink a beer right now lol great music !
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elmerearl
great
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you know kitty wells really was the queen of country
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nice artist
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love kitty wells
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You truly are the Queen of country music
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kitty wells is my great grand mother
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Kitty Wells is a wonderful part of America in an era that produced the best in country music. My teen years were spent in the 1950's listening on AM radio to Kitty Wells and all of the country western singers of that time. A tear comes to my eyes when I think I'll never be able to go back. Ah, memories...a r e n ' t they great !
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Leave a comment…
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she is the gratist
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I agree I love Kitty Wells and would like to find the song how far is heaven by her
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loved her.she is still great her songs will live forver.
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Kitty Wells has been a favorite since I was a little girl. and believe me....that was a long time ago. :)
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lexluthier49 1
Makin Believe is the single greatest female country song ever.
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She will always be my love.
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Kitty paved the way for all of the female country singers. I believe she's the real "Queen of Country Music".
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sunbum14
Kitty Wells is by far this GREATEST Female country singer of all times in my mind.
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sail_crazy44
In around 1963 I went on a DE for over 30 days and all they had onboard was Kitty Wells and when that tour was over i loved Kitty Wells and i stll do to this day. I had a chance to see her in person but never went and am still sad over that decision.
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alsites2001
The one & only country singer...gro w i n g up in wv,,them old songs bring back memeries ..got most of her records..Her gospel was the greatest..
still see her on rfd tv ,,looks good at 90 + also she has been married over 70 years..
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Not only is she the queen of country music, she the queen of all woman singer.
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One of country's best
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Listening to Kiiy Wells reminds me of growing up in FL, listening to The Grand Ol' Uproar, At the original Ryman, on WSM as it faded in and out. I loved that hillbilly music, as folks once called it. I couldn't listen to Miss Kitty Wells and others on the Opry without smiling in complete contentment.
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Kitty is one of the greatest
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Kitty Wells rules
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If you think Kitty is good, keep an ear out for Meghan McCoy, she sings for some crazy honky-tonk band in sacramento, she is f**king amazing!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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