Kitty Wells Another Angel Goes Home
Submitted by Don Graham
The first queen of country music Kitty Wells has gone home. Miss Wells passed away July 16, 2012 at her home in Nashville at age of 92. She surrounded by family and friends.
Her 1952 breakthrough hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” catapulted her to fame and paved the way for future female country singers. At that time in country music, female singers weren’t accepted as main stage entertainers and were given a small role as a “guest” and then left the stage to let the male singers carry on with the show. Kitty Wells changed all that and paved the way for Loretta Lynn to break through as a major female country music star. It’s safe to say that without the pioneering of Kitty Wells the careers of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Reba, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Michelle Wright and right up to Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert would not have been.
“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was the answer song to Hank Thompson’s “ Wild Side of Life”. Wells wasn’t sure about the song but took the offer to record it Owen Bradley’s studio because of the $125 union scale recording payment. "I wasn't expecting to make a hit," said Wells later. " I just thought it was another song."
In 1976, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame .Wells became the second female country singer to be elected with Patsy Cline being the first to be honoured as a solo act in 1973. In 1991, Wells was presented a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wells married Johnnie Wright (1914–2011) in 1937. They had three children, two daughters, Ruby (1939–2009) and Carol Sue and a son, Bobby. In addition, Wells has five siblings; Jewel, William, Orville, Raymond, and Mae. Her parents were Charles Cary and Myrtle Deason. She and Johnnie also have 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. As of 2008, there were 3 great-great grandchildren are all under the age of 10.
Canadian country sweetheart Michelle Wright remembered Kitty Wells fondly when reached at her home in Nashville. “Kitty Wells was a huge influence on country music from a female point of view. Honestly without her I may not have the career I’m having today. I had the pleasure of being on a tour bus with Kitty, her husband Johnnie Wright and their son, Bobby. She was such an amazing lady, down to earth and sweet. Kitty Wells was truly a shining light and every female country artist, including myself, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kitty Wells.”
Kitty Wells and Johnnie WrightCanadian Country Hall of Famer and legend Tommy Hunter reached at his home had similar observations about the legacy of Kitty Wells. “ Kitty was on my T.V. show many times. A true professional and a sweet lady. She paved the way for all the female country singers right up to today. I remember her husband Johnnie Wright and his cousin Jack had a really great duo called Johnnie and Jack, really talented. Johnnie gave Kitty her name from an old folk song called ‘Sweet Kitty Wells.” She was one of a kind and a real trailblazer.”
Wells and her husband Johhnie Wright – lifelong members of the Church of Christ - celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2007, a rare achievement for any couple and one of the longest celebrity marriages in history. Ruby died in 2009 at the age of 69 and Johnnie died in 2011 at the age of 97. Rest in peace Kitty Wells - Another Angel Goes Home.