Like most males of my generation, I had a serious schoolboy crush on Olivia Newton-John, but she was replaced rather quickly in my affections by Tanya Tucker. Nearly 30 years later, Tanya remains one of my very favorite country music performers, so I am pleased to announce that she is our spotlight artist for the month of June.
Tanya Denise Tucker was born on October 10, 1958 in Seminole, Texas. By the time she was 13, she had become a major country music star, having been signed to a Columbia Records recording contract by Billy Sherrill, and having reached the #6 position on Billboard’s country singles chart with her first outing, “Delta Dawn”.
Despite her tender age, Tucker became known for releasing what her future producer Jerry Crutchfield described as a series of “hot and sweaty” songs, tackling a variety of very adult topics, including mental illness, alcoholism, illegitimacy, rape, and murder. A switch to MCA Records in 1975 resulted in material with less heavy themes, but despite some initial success, it also marked the beginnings of a series of personal problems and a career decline.
By the mid-1980s, she had been written off as a has-been. Her credibility was in tatters and she was without a recording contract when Jerry Crutchfield persuaded a very reluctant Jim Fogelsong, Director of A&R at Capitol Records, to give Tanya one more chance. Tanya proved that she could still deliver the goods when “One Love At A Time”, her first single for Capitol, peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart in 1986. She remained a fixture at the top of the charts and on the Capitol Nashville roster through the late 1990s.
Today, Tanya Tucker is one of a very small group of performers who can lay claim to have had chart success spanning four decades. On June 30th, Saguaro Road Records will release My Turn , her first album in seven years. I hope you’ll join us as we look back at the career highs and lows, and the triumphs and missteps of this very interesting living legend and country music icon.