The entire collection of professional memorabilia documenting the stellar career of Tammy Wynette has arrived at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, according to a report from the museum’s representatives.
The move was facilitated by George Richey, Wynette’s widower, and Wanda Williams, after numerous discussions with the museum’s staff.
Among the 14 ultra-feminine stage costumes, all dating from the latter years of her career, are the red jacket trimmed in gold brocade that Wynette wore when she sang “Stand by Your Man” with Lyle Lovett on NBC’s Tonight Show in 1993. The collection includes her trademark beaded jackets, gowns and jumpsuits, most created by fashion designers Jeff Billings and Lillie Rubin.
A crate of awards memorializing Wynette’s remarkable contributions to country music includes Grammys for “I Don’t Wanna Play House” (1967) and “Stand by Your Man” (1969); CMA Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1968, 1969 and 1970; and her ACM Pioneer Award (2000).
Among the framed letters and notes are messages from Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush. One of the more unusual pieces is a lyric sheet for “A Woman’s Needs,” a song Wynette recorded with Elton John for his 1993 Duets album. The autograph reads: “The Queen of Country Meets the Queen of England. Love you, Elton John.”
“Like Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, Tammy’s songs articulated a woman’s perspective rarely found in country music at the time,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “Like many of her peers in the Country Music Hall of Fame, she overcame the limitations of an impoverished rural childhood to become one of America’s defining cultural icons.
“These relics and accoutrements of her career are important touchstones worthy of study and interpretation, and that’s why we are so grateful to see them arrive here,” Young said. “Thanks to Wanda and George, we expect to have many of them on exhibit before the end of this year.”
“We are glad to have these extraordinary artifacts in a place where they will be respected and preserved, and where they can be returned to her fans,” Williams said. “Tammy would be thrilled.”
In the 1960s and ’70s, as a solo artist and as the duet partner of David Houston and later George Jones, Wynette racked 20 No. 1 singles. Among her most well-known songs are “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Bad,” “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Stand By Your Man” and “We’re Gonna Hold On.”
Known as the “first lady of country music,” Wynette died at age 55 in April 1998. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later that year.