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Biography: Tanya Tucker

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With a career spanning over four decades, she's one of the biggest names in Outlaw Country.  Who is this woman?  Her name is Tanya Tucker!

 

Tanya Tucker: from teen idol to country legend!

 

Born in Seminole, Texas, to Jesse "Beau" and Juanita Tucker on October 10th, 1958, Tucker took to singing and performing as soon as she could.  At the age of eight, she told her parents that she wanted to sing country music professionally and her father, noting her vocal gift, took her ambitions seriously.  Tucker's first break came when Beau drove the entire family from Utah to Arizona for her to audition for a back up singer position with country singer Judy Lynn at the Arizona State Fair.  Tucker, blowing away the judges, got to perform for the fair.  Around the same time, she had her first on screen appearance when she and her family were extras on a 1972 Robert Redford movie called Jeremiah Johnson.  When she was around twelve years old, the Tucker family moved to Las Vegas in an attempt to get the fledgling starlet some publicity.  Beau was able to get some demo tapes to a producer with Columbia Records which led to Tucker being signed.  America was about to meet one of the greatest teen country stars of the 20th century.

 

Even with her "teenie" persona, Tucker's early work like "Delta Dawn" and "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)" included dark, adult themes.

 

At the age of fourteen, Tucker released her first album: Delta Dawn.  The album was a country hit, peaking at #32 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and featuring two Top 10 country singles: "Delta Dawn" at #6 and "Love's the Answer" at #5.  The young teen from Seminole was quickly becoming a national sensation and her next album, 1973's What's Your Mama's Name, shot up to #4 on the Country Albums Chart and boasted two #1 hits: "What's Your Mama's Name" and "Blood Red and Goin' Down".  With the release of her version of David Allan Coe's "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)" and its subsequent rise to #1 on the Country Chart, Tucker was now officially a super-starlet at the age of 16.  She would have another Top 10 hit in 1974 with "The Man That Turned My Mama On" at #4, but she would nonetheless decide to move over to MCA Records by 1975.  Her first album with them, the self-titled Tanya Tucker, only rose to #8 on the Country Albums Chart, but featured two more #1 hits: "Lizzie and the Rainman" and "San Antonio Stroll".  1976 would see another Top 10 album, Lovin' and Learnin' at #3, which featured two more Top 10 singles, "Don't Believe My Heart Can Stand Another You" at #4 and "You've Got Me to Hold On To" at #3.  That same year, Tucker would release her only #1 album, Here's Some Love, which saw its title track hit #1 on the singles chart.  Two more albums would see daylight in 1977, Ridin' Rainbows at #16 and You Are So Beautiful at #44, and her single "It's a Cowboy Lovin' Night" would rise to #7.  Unfortunately, all this success came at a steep price.

 

TNT transformed Tucker's image from a young, sweet girl into a hard-hitting, wild woman.  Her fans loved it.

 

Tucker, fueled by the often lethal combination of commercial success and personal insecurity, took to drinking and partying in her late teens while on the road.  By the time she had moved to Los Angeles in 1978, she had acquired a reputation as a wild child who, in her own words, "...could stay up longer, drink more, and kick the biggest ass in town".  Even as her demons started to come out, Tucker hit pay-dirt once again with her TNT album.  Causing quite the controversy, the album's cover presented a sexier, wilder, more mature Tucker to the world - a Tucker her fans were more than happy to listen to on the radio and in person.  The album shot up to #2 and featured a song that became a country music anthem called "Texas (When I Die)".  Sadly, the onset of the '80s took Tucker out of the national spotlight and her career and record sales suffered significantly - it wouldn't be until 1986 and her Girls Like Me album that she would be back in the Country Albums Top 20.  While she had a handful of Top 10 singles during this time, including "Can I See You Tonight" at #4 and "Feel Right" at #10, her alcoholism and budding cocaine use took over her life after a stormy breakup with fellow country star Glen Campbell in 1982.

 

Tucker never married, but she did have several high profile relationships.  Her most infamous would be to fellow country legend Glen Campbell.

 

After a two year absence from the country charts, Tucker signed with Capitol record and returned to the spotlight with four Top 10 hits: "One Love at a Time" at #3, "I'll Come Back as Another Woman" at #2, "It's Only Over for You" at #8, and "Just Another Love" at #1.  The next album, 1987's Love Me Like You Used To, was even more popular and saw three more big hits for Tucker: "Love Me Like You Used To" at #2, "If It Don't Come Easy" at #1, and "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" (featuring Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet) at #1.  There was even more to come with her Strong Enough to Bend record that was released in 1988, netting her three more Top 10 singles as Tucker entered her thirties: "Call on Me" at #4, "Highway Robbery" at #2, and "Strong Enough to Bend" at #1.  Even with the comeback and subsequent success (even being nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association), Tucker's struggles with substance abuse landed her a stay at the Betty Ford Center for a short period.  Fortunately, with the backing her of family, she was able to move on past that part of her life into a very successful '90s career.

 

The early '90s proved to be highly successful for Tucker.  Singles released during this time include: "Down to My Last Teardrop" at #2, "(Without You) What Do I Do with Me" at #2, "Some Kind of Trouble" at #3, "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane" at #2, and "It's a Little Too Late" at #2.

 

More hits were on their way when Tucker released her 1990 album, Tennessee Woman, which included hits like "Walking Shoes" at #3, "Don't Go Out" at #6, and "It Won't Be Me" at #6.  Every single released from the next two albums, What Do I Do with Me in 1991 and Can't Run from Yourself in 1992, hit the Top 10.  Both of those albums, by the way, went platinum.  1994's Soon also would feature two more Top 10 hits: "Hangin' In" at #4 and "Soon" at #2.  During this time, the accolades rolled in; Tucker was voted "Female Vocalist of the Year" by the CMA in 1991, was named "Female Video Artist of the Year" by Country Music Television, and was tagged to perform at the half-time show for Super Bowl XXVIII.  Tucker had one more Top 10 hit in 1997, "Little Things", and would be inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame that same year.

 

Now in her mid-fifties, Tucker still keeps herself busy in the music business with producing and even the occasional performance.

 

With over three decades of experience in the music business by the year 2002, Tanya launched her own record label called Tuckertime Records.  She would release her Tanya album that same year, her first album released in five years.  She would spend most of the decade promoting other artists and appearing on their works, although she continued to tour regularly.  She would contribute two songs to the 2005 Bob Wills tribute album called A Tribute to Bob Wills 100th Anniversary and wrote a book called 100 Ways to Beat the Blues on Fireside.  She even starred in her own reality TV series called Tuckerville on The Learning Channel in 2005 that lasted two seasons.  Tucker is still quite busy these days and has her fingers in many pies, so we definitely expect to see and hear a lot more from her before she even thinks about retirement.

 

Discography:

(1972) Delta Dawn - #32

(1973) What's Your Mama's Name - #4

(1973) Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone) - #4

(1975) Tanya Tucker - #8

(1976) Lovin' and Learnin' - #3

(1976) Here's Some Love - #1

(1977) Ridin' Rainbows - #16

(1977) You Are So Beautiful - #44

(1978) TNT - #2

(1979) Tear Me Apart - #33

(1980) Dreamlovers - #41

(1981) Should I Do It - #48

(1982) Changes - #47

(1986) Girls Like Me - #20

(1987) Love Me Like You Used To - #12

(1988) Strong Enough to Bend - #9

(1990) Tennessee Woman - #18

(1991) What Do I Do With Me - #6

(1992) Can't Run from Yourself - #12

(1993) Soon - #18

(1995) Fire to Fire - #29

(1997) Complicated - #15

(2002) Tanya - #39

(2009) My Turn - #27