The Night I Followed Tammy Wynette Down the Ohio River Bank
Tammy Wynette was a superstar in 1985 when I met her. She had already had 20 number one country hits and was an international star. Although all of those number ones came in the 1970's she could still draw a crowd. She did that Saturday night in Owensboro at the Executive Inn Showroom. The house was full.
I was Program Director and morning DJ on WBKR in Owensboro. It was the heyday of the Showroom located on the banks of the Ohio river. I was the MC and eventually the opening act for many of the big country stars of the 80's like Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, George Jones and on one special evening--the great Tammy Wynette.
I came to most shows armed with a cassette tape recorder and a few liners for the stars to record. I would shove a mike at them and hold up an index card with something for them to record like, "Hello this is (your name here) and you're listening to the tri state's country leader - 92.5 WBKR". This particular Saturday night I went onstage and introduced Tammy's band and then headed back stage to the small dressing room while the band warmed up the crowd with a few tunes.
Tammy was sitting alone at the dressing table in a stunning green sequin gown and high heels that matched. She was.putting the finishing touches on a very elaborate hairdo. I thought ,"doesn't she have people that do this?" and then I remembered Tammy had been a hairdresser before she became a star.I couldn't believe I was in the presence of the "First Lady of Country".' I introduced myself and asked if she could record a couple of lines to use on our station. She said, "sure but it's pretty noisy back here. We've still got about 10 minutes ,Let's go outside". There was a side door just off the stage which led to a catwalk around the back of the showroom. We went outside but Tammy still wasn't satisfied with the interference from the band. She insisted we get farther away from the music.She headed down a metal staircase to the big rocks on the banks of the Ohio.
So here we were balancing on these big rocks recording her voice with a couple of coal barges gliding by shining their spotlights on the rocks. I wonder if a pilot on either of those recognized Tammy Wynette. At any rate she finished and we climbed back up the rocks just in time for her to walk onto the stage.
With dedication and the professionalism to make sure she got everything perfect is one of the reasons Tammy Wynette became a big star.
When I got back to the radio station Monday I realized in all the excitement I had forgotten to push the "record" button.
Click below and hear Tammy do her biggest hit on the Johnny Cash TV show.....