Tammy Wynette remains one of country music's most famous and mysterious figures nearly 12 years after her death. Her hits such as "Stand By Your Man" and "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" have stood the test of time to become bona fide classics, but there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the events of her life, such as a bizarre kidnapping incident in 1978, her marriage to George Jones, and the exact cause of her death in April 1998 at age 55.
A new book out this week addresses some of those mysteries and also celebrates the singer's musical legacy. Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen was written by longtime fan Jimmy McDonough, who previously penned a bestselling biography on Neil Young. Searching through tons of interview footage and newspaper clips and talking with key players in Tammy's life, Jimmy hopes readers will walk away with a real appreciation for the singer's artistry. He tells us, "I just think as a vocalist, if you really get down and study the records, nobody sang like Tammy...She gave her all to the music, man. Every drop."
Jimmy talked with Tammy's former husband and duet partner George Jones for the book, as well as her peers Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn "They all came forward because they all love Tammy," Jimmy says. "I don't think Dolly Parton is in awe of too many people, understandably, but I got the feeling that Tammy's singing leaves Dolly a bit speechless. So, that's saying something." Jimmy also points to superstar admirers such as Barbara Streisand and Elton John, who sang Tammy's praises. "Wherever Tammy went, she was just a singer's singer," says Jimmy.
Towards the end of her life, Tammy's addiction to prescription drugs only worsened due to her failing health and numerous surgeries. Because of her celebrity status, Tammy also had access to virtually unlimited amounts of drugs. Though the actual cause of her death remains a mystery -- even after a well-publicized lawsuit against her health care providers in 2000 -- Jimmy thinks the ultimate tragedy is that Tammy isn't around to enjoy her enduring legacy. "Like Elvis or Michael Jackson, it just is a very sad tale in the end," Jimmy says. "You want better for Tammy."
I'm going to pick up a copy of this book this week for sure. Tammy's life has always intrigued me and I've often thought it was bizarre that there were so many unanswered questions about her. ~Vanessa
Tammy Wynette Bonus is Book