A high-energy performer nicknamed "The Texas Tornado," Tanya Denise
Tucker was blessed with precocious vocal talents as a child. The youngest of
three children, she was born on October 10, 1958, in Seminole, Texas. Tanya's
parents, Beau and Juanita Tucker, were dogged by poverty. Beau moved the family
around as he searched for construction work.
Settling in Wilcox, Arizona, for several years, Beau strongly encouraged the
musical gifts of his daughters, LaCosta, and Tanya. The girls were taken to the
performances of touring country artists, and Beau frequently arranged for little
Tanya to come onstage and sing. Tanya, LaCosta, and three Wilcox boys formed a
group The Country Westerners. The family moved to Phoenix when Tanya was eight,
and she became a regular on The Lew King Ranger Show on local television.
Soon the family moved to Utah where Tanya landed a non-speaking part in
Jeremiah Johnson, filmed in 1971 and starring Robert Redford. After another
move to Las Vegas, Beau scraped together enough money for a demo tape. A few
years earlier Beau had unsuccessfully peddled a crude demo around Nashville, but
this time Tanya's tape caught the attention of the right people.
Thirteen-year-old Tanya Tucker signed a contract with Columbia. She turned down
The Happiest Girl in the U.S.A. in favor of Delta Dawn, recorded
in her first Columbia session. In 1972, Delta Dawn reached the Top 10,
and that same year Tanya made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She was named the
New Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music, and in 1973 she
had two No. 1 hits, What's Your Mama's Name and Blood Red and Goin'
In 1974 Beau negotiated a $1.5 million contract with a new label, MCA. The
contract was signed on Tanya's sixteenth birthday at a gala party arranged by
MCA at a Little Rock amusement park. In 1975 Lizzie and the Rainman and
San Antonio Stroll soared to No. 1, while Don't Believe My Heart Can
Stand Another You reached the Top 5. During the 70's Tanya appeared in
motion pictures such as Hard Country with Kim Basinger and Jan-Michael
Vincent and in the TV movies Amateur Night with Dennis Quaid, The
Rebels, starring Don Johnson, and Hard Country.
A tumultuous romance with Glen Campbell, who was at the height of stardom,
gained considerable notoriety. Other romances also were publicized, and her
bouts with alcohol and cocaine led to a 1988 stay at the Betty Ford Center for
rehabilitation. In 1986 Tanya signed with Capitol Records and produced several
No. 1 hits: Just Another Love, I Won't Take Less Than Your Love, If It Don't
Come Easy, and Strong Enough to Bend. In 1991 the Country Music Association
voted Tanya Female Vocalist of the Year. In 1992 she was awarded ACM's Video of
the Year for Two Sparrows in a Hurricane, and in 1991 Tanya, an avid
horsewoman, won the Celebrity Cutting Horse Championship in Fort Worth.
"She's going to be the next Elvis Presley." Tanya was still a teenager when
Elvis Presley caught her show in Denver, and she treasured his remark. "I'd
stack any awards in the world up against that one comment," stated Tanya in her
1997 autobiography, Nickel Dreams.
"The world stops spinning when he sings," declared Robert K.
Oermann, dean of Country Music critics. "In his voice is all the ache of
existence." The expressive tenor voice of Gene Watson has generated admiration
from such stars as George Strait, Marty Robbins, George Jones, and Randy Travis.
He is widely regarded as a singer's singer.
Gary Gene Watson was born on October 11, 1943, in Palestine, Texas. His father
was a sawmill worker and farm laborer. For the first several years of Gene's
life, he rambled around with his parents and six brothers and sisters in an old
school bus as his father sought work. Often the entire family toiled together in
harvesting crops. Finally the Watsons settled in Paris in northeast Texas.
Gene's father was an instrumentalist who liked to play the Blues, and the boy
quickly developed a feel for music. The family attended Pentecostal church
services, and like so many budding country artists, young Gene began singing
gospel music. Feeling the need to support his family, Gene dropped out of school
in the ninth grade and found employment as an auto repairman where he developed
a passion for cars. Indeed, Gene still tinkers happily at The Toy Shop, an auto
shop he set up for his personal use.
Beginning in 1965, Gene and his band recorded for various independent labels.
Nearly a decade passed, however, before Gene finally scored a hit. In 1974 the
provocative Love in the Afternoon was picked up by Capitol Records, and
the song reached the Top 3 in 1975. Capitol signed Gene, and with the backing of
a major label, he recorded a succession of hits, regularly cracking the Top 20
during the next five years.
Where Love Begins made the Top 5 in 1976, and the next year Paper
Rosie hit the Top 3. I Don't Need a Thing at All reached the top 10
at the end of 1977, and a year later One Sided Conversation also made the
Top 10. In 1979 Pick the Wildwood Flower hit the Top 5, while Should I
Go Home (Or Should I Go Crazy) reached the Top 3. But Gene's favorite hit of
1979 was Farewell Party. A moving tale of suicide, Farewell Party
became Gene's signature song, and he named his band after the Top 3 hit.
His first MCA release, Between This Time and the Next Time, made the Top
20 in 1981, and before the year ended, MCA released Gene's biggest hit,
Fourteen Carat Mind, which reached No. 1. During the next three years Gene
enjoyed five Top 10 hits, a Top 5, and a Top 3. He moved to Epic Records in 1985
and immediately reached the Top 5 with Memories to Burn. But there was
not as much success during the next few years, and by 1988 Gene was considering
retirement from the music industry. Then Gene's career was revived by a new
manager, Lib Hatcher, who also managed Randy Travis. Lib arranged a contract
with Warner Brother's Records. Almost immediately Gene recorded a Top 5 hit,
Don't Waste It on the Blues. Gene also began touring with Randy Travis, who
was enjoying the peak of his popularity.
When Ann Stuckey took charge of her husband's fan club, she
happily distributed badges which declared that the wearer was "Stuck on
Stuckey." Indeed, fans were "Stuck on Stuckey" because of Nat's enormous
versatility. During a career which spanned more than three decades, Nat Stuckey
was a singer, songwriter, deejay, record producer, music publisher, owner of a
booking agency and the voice of hundreds of commercials.
This versatile Texas was born in Cass County on December 17, 1933. Nathan Wright
Stuckey, II was raised in Atlanta, where he learned to play the guitar and
developed a deep interest in music. After high school he attended Arlington
State College where he studied speech and radio-TV. Returning to Atlanta he
became a radio announcer at KALT. After two years, Nat entered the Army, working
with Armed Services Radio and TV in Korea and New York City. Following his
discharge, Nat came back to Atlanta and KALT.
Then he moved to KWKH in Shreveport, home of the Louisiana Hayride. Nat worked
as a deejay at KWKH for the next eight years at the same time expanding into
other areas of music. In 1957 and 1958 he performed with an eight-piece jazz
band. Then Nat formed a country group, The Corn Huskers, and a year later he
became leader of the Louisiana Hayride. Nat Stuckey was the last major artist
developed by the Hayride.
Nat began recording in 1964, and by this time he was writing songs. In 1966
Sweet Thang made the Top 5, and Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb recorded a hit
version of the song. Nat wrote Waitin' in the Welfare Line for Buck
Owens, and the recording spent seven weeks at No. 1. In 1967 Jim Ed Brown took
Nat's Pop-a-Top to the Top 3. Nat recorded several songs which hit the
charts, and in 1967 he formed a backing band called the Sweet Thangs. In 1969 he
reached the Top 10 with Sweet Thang and Cisco. Twice he recorded his
duets with Connie Smith, Young Love and If God is Dead (Who's that
Living in my Soul), and the duo also recorded two albums.
Nat enjoyed a banner year in 1973. Got Leaving on Her Mind reached the
top 15, Take Time to Love Her made the Top 10, and I Used It All on
You hit the Top 3. For a time Nat's opening act was a fast-rising teenaged
singer named Tanya Tucker. During the 1970s Nat began announcing and singing
commercials, eventually recording hundreds of regional and national media ads.
He wrote two Coca Cola jingles, recorded twenty-two McDonald's spots, and became
the singing voice of Budweiser commercials.
After Nat and Ann moved to Nashville, they established a booking agency, Music
Row Talent, Inc. Nat also bought and sold land in Tennessee and Texas through
his Texas Promised Land Development Company. Despite the demands of his
businesses, touring schedule, recording sessions, and songwriting, Nat found
time to pursue a variety of personal interests. He rode motorcycles and was a
bass fisherman of sufficient skill to be invited to Bass Master Tournaments. A
dog lover, Nat sometimes was allowed to assist in veterinary surgery (the vet
was a business partner). His carpentry skills inspired him to start a
woodworking and furniture-making enterprise at his home on Center Hill Lake. But
his latest venture was cut short by the discovery of lung cancer. Within two
months of diagnosis the fifty-four-year-old entertainer died on August 24, 1988.
His ashes were scattered over Center Hill Lake.