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Johnnie Wright in 1964
|Birth name||Johnnie Robert Wright Jr.|
|Born||May 13, 1914|
Mount Juliet, Tennessee, United States
|Died||September 27, 2011 (aged 97)|
Madison, Tennessee, U.S.
|Associated acts||Johnnie & Jack, Kitty Wells, Ruby Wright, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff|
Johnnie Robert Wright Jr. (May 13, 1914 – September 27, 2011) was an American country music singer-songwriter, who spent much of his career working with Jack Anglin as the popular duo Johnnie & Jack, and was also the husband of country music star Kitty Wells.
Early life and career
Born in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, Wright first performed with Anglin in 1936. In 1937, he married Kitty Wells. The two, along with Wright’s sister Louise, performed as Johnnie Wright & the Harmony Girls. In 1939, Wright and Anglin formed the duo Johnnie & Jack. They teamed up full-time in the 1940s and, except for the time Anglin spent overseas during World War II, remained together for more than two decades.
In 1952, Johnnie & Jack’s "Poison Love" took them to the Grand Ole Opry, where the duo, along with Wells, were invited to join and where they remained for 15 years. Following Anglin's death in an automobile accident in 1963, Wright continued performing and releasing records. After his name was misspelled on a record label, Wright changed his name from Johnnie to Johnny.
Johnnie Wright was a founding member of the Country Music Association and turned down the offer to be its first president. He was also involved in the effort to build the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although, Wright has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In 1964, he and his Tennessee Mountain Boys had a Top 25 hit with "Walkin', Talkin', Cryin', Barely Beatin' Broken Heart." The following year, he had success with "Hello Vietnam", a No. 1 hit. In 1968, he and Wells recorded an autobiographical duet, "We'll Stick Together", and continued playing live shows together through 2007.
In 1983, Wright and Wells opened the Family Country Junction Museum and Studio in their hometown of Madison, Tennessee. They closed the museum in October 2000, but their grandson, John Sturdivant Jr. kept the Junction Recording Studio operating.
Director Stanley Kubrick included Johnnie Wright`s song "Hello Vietnam" in the soundtrack for the 1987 film "Full Metal Jacket."
Wright joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the 1991 CD "Christmas Time's A Comin'" featuring the cast of the TV series In the Heat of the Night. He performed along with Kitty Wells and Bobby Wright on "Jingle Bells" with the cast.
On December 31, 2000, the duo performed their farewell concert at the Nashville Nightlife Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. They played to a full house of fans, family and friends that included Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Leona Williams, Tommy Cash, Jack Greene, Jean Shepard and comedian-impressionist Johnny Counterfit.
Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright were married on October 30, 1937. Together they had three children, Ruby (1939–2009), Bobby., and Carol Sue. Each of their children enjoyed minor success individually as recording artists— Ruby, with a hit called "Dern 'Ya," an "answer song" to Roger Miller's "Dang Me"; and Bobby, with a series of country-pop hits in the early to mid-1970s, including "Seasons in the Sun" (covering Terry Jacks' No. 1 pop hit from 1974). Carol Sue, on a mid-1950s duet with Wells titled "How Far is Heaven". Carol Sue and Ruby also had success with a pop hit as The Wright Sisters with "That's Ok" in the early 1960s. All three children performed as part of their parents' road show, while growing up.
Johnnie Wright died at his home of natural causes in Madison, Tennessee on September 27, 2011, exactly two years after older daughter Ruby's death; and 33 days short of his 74th wedding anniversary with Wells. Wright had been in failing health for some time. He was survived by his wife of 73 years and their 2 surviving children Bobby and Carol Sue, plus 8 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
|Year||Album details||US Country|
|1966||Country Music Special
|1967||Country… The Wright Way
|1968||Johnnie Wright Sings Country Favorites
|We'll Stick Together (with Kitty Wells)
|1972||Kitty Wells & Johnny Wright Sing
Heartwarming Gospel Songs (with Kitty Wells)
|Year||Single||US Country||US Cash Box Country||Album|
|1963||"Sweet Snow Dear"||—||40||Hello Vietnam|
|1964||"Walkin', Talkin', Cryin', Barely Beatin' Broken Heart"||22||41|
|"Don't Give Up the Ship"||37||—|
|1965||"Blame It on the Moonlight"||28||31|
|"Keep the Flag Flying"||31||9||Country Music Special|
|1966||"Nickels, Quarters and Dimes"||31||28|
|"I'm Doing This for Daddy"||53||44||Country… The Wright Way|
|"Mama's Little Jewel"||50||42|
|1967||"Ole Honky Tonk"||—||50||Johnnie Wright Sings Country Favorites|
|"American Power"||66||32||non-album single|
|"Music to Cry By"||69||—||Johnnie Wright Sings Country Favorites|
|1968||"Atlanta Georgia Baby"||—||—|
|"We'll Stick Together" (with Kitty Wells)||54||25||We'll Stick Together|
|"(They Always Come Out) Smellin' Like a Rose"||66||58||non-album singles|
|1969||"Love Ain't Gonna Die (I'm Gonna Have to Kill It)"||—||—|
|"Sing a Song About Love"||—||—|
|1970||"A Dear John Letter"||—||—|
|"Where the Heart Aches Hang Around"||—||—|
|1971||"Old Honky Tonk"||—||—|
|"High Cost of Livin'"||—||—|
|"South in New Orleans"||—||—|
|"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes"||—||—|
|1973||"Ode to a Country Bar"||—||—|
|1974||"Wild Passionate Lover"||—||—|
|1976||"I Never Told Him I Loved You"||—||—|
|1982||"Just a Simple Bouquet"||—||—||non-album singles|
|1984||"The King Went on a Journey"||—||—|
- "Johnnie Wright Obituary". Spring Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2013.[permanent dead link]
-  "Queen of Country Music’s Daughter Passes Away," Pure Country Music, September 28, 2009. Retrieved 27-08-12.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 476. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
- Cooper, Peter (27 September 2011). "Johnnie Wright, country star and husband of Kitty Wells, dies at 97". The Tennessean. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "'Queen of Country Music' Kitty Wells Dies". WKRN-TV. 16 July 2012. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012.
- "Kitty Wells Obituary". Austin & Bell Funeral Home. 16 July 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
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