Tanya Tucker

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Tanya Tucker
Tucker signing autographs in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 2019.
Background information
Birth nameTanya Denise Tucker
Born (1958-10-10) October 10, 1958 (age 61)[1]
Seminole, Texas, U.S.
GenresCountry, outlaw country
InstrumentsVocals, acoustic guitar
Years active1972–present
Associated actsLaCosta Tucker

Tanya Denise Tucker (born October 10, 1958) is an American country music artist who had her first hit, "Delta Dawn", in 1972 at the age of 13. Over the succeeding decades, Tucker became one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience, and during the course of her career, she notched a streak of top-10 and top-40 hits.[2] She has had several successful albums, several Country Music Association award nominations, and hit songs such as 1973's "What's Your Mama's Name?" and "Blood Red and Goin' Down", 1975's "Lizzie and the Rainman", and 1988's "Strong Enough to Bend".

Childhood before fame[edit]

Tucker was the youngest of four children born to Jesse "Beau" and Juanita Tucker. Her father was a heavy equipment operator, and the family moved often as he sought better work. Tanya's early childhood was spent primarily in Willcox, Arizona, where the only radio station in town, KHIL, played country music. The Tuckers attended concerts of country stars such as Ernest Tubb and Mel Tillis, and Tanya's sister LaCosta was praised in the family for her vocal abilities. At the age of eight, Tanya told her father that she also wanted to be a country singer when she grew up.[3]

When the Tuckers moved to St. George, Utah, Juanita took Tanya to audition for the film Jeremiah Johnson. Tanya did not win the bigger role for which she tried out, but she was hired as a bit player. About this time, she also got one of her first musical breaks, when her father drove the family to Phoenix for the Arizona State Fair, on the chance that the featured performer, country singer Judy Lynn, could use Tanya in her show. Tanya sang for the fair's entertainment managers, and she was engaged to sing at the fair itself.[3]

Career discovery[edit]

Tucker made her debut with Mel Tillis, who was so impressed by her talent that he invited her onstage to perform. In 1969, the family moved to Henderson, Nevada, where she regularly performed. Eventually, she recorded a demonstration tape that gained the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller, who sent it to producer Billy Sherrill,[2] the head of artists and repertoire at CBS Records. Sherrill was impressed with the demo tape and signed the teenage vocalist to Columbia Records.[2]

Country music career[edit]

1972–1979: Teen country star[edit]

Sherrill initially planned to have Tucker record "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA", but she chose "Delta Dawn" — a song she had heard Bette Midler sing on The Tonight Show — instead as her first single, while Donna Fargo the writer of "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA" released her own version as a single. Released in May 1972, the song became a hit, peaking at number six on the country charts and scraping the bottom of the pop charts. At first, Columbia Records tried to downplay Tucker's age, but soon word leaked out and she became a sensation.[2] A year later, Australian singer Helen Reddy scored a number-one U.S. pop hit with her version of "Delta Dawn".

"I thank the lucky stars and the Good Lord for that song," Tucker told Nine-O-One Network Magazine in 1988. "If I cut it now for the first time I think it would be a hit. I was fortunate to have latched onto that one, and that was all Sherrill's doing. If it hadn't been for Sherrill, I probably would have been a rodeo queen or something."[4]

Her second single, "Love's the Answer", also became a top-10 hit later in 1972. Tucker's third single, "What's Your Mama's Name", became her first number-one hit in the spring of 1973. Two other number ones — "Blood Red and Goin' Down" and "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)" followed, establishing Tucker as a major star.[2]

In 1975, she signed with MCA Records, where she had a string of hit singles that ran into the late 1970s.[2]

Among these hits was "Lizzie and the Rainman", which became a number-one country hit and also became Tucker's only top-40 pop music hit, peaking at number 37. It also peaked among the top 10 on the adult contemporary charts at the time. Tucker has a string of top-10 country hits under MCA between 1975 and 1978, including "San Antonio Stroll", "Here's Some Love", and "It's a Cowboy Lovin' Night".

In 1978, she decided to radically change her image and cross over to rock with her TNT album. Despite the controversy over the record and its sexy cover, it went gold the following year.[2]

The two hit singles from the album were "I'm a Singer, You're the Song", and "Texas (When I Die)". The latter reached number five on the country charts, and its B-side, "Not Fade Away", a Buddy Holly cover, peaked at number 70 on the hot 100 pop charts.

1979–1984: Sales decline and personal battles[edit]

By the end of the 1970s, her sales were declining — in 1980 she only had two hits, one of them was "Can I See You Tonight?". Also in 1980, she recorded a few singles with Glen Campbell, with whom she was romantically linked. In addition to recording, she also made her feature-film debut in Hard Country, although she did have small roles in Jeremiah Johnson (1972) and the television miniseries The Rebels (1979).[2]

Despite having a top 10 hit in March 1983 ("Feel Right") [5] from her first and only Arista album Changes, she struggled to have her music played on the radio. By mid-1983, her singles were no longer making the top 40.

Her famous amours included country singer Merle Haggard (who was 21 years her senior), actor Don Johnson, pop singer Andy Gibb, and most notably, Glen Campbell, with whom she had a stormy relationship and a minor hit duet, "Dream Lover".[3]

Though she moved to Nashville after her breakup with Campbell in 1982 and began to lead a more secluded life. Finally, in 1988, her family confronted her and persuaded her to enter the Betty Ford Center. At first, Tucker rebelled against her treatments, but after private counseling sessions, she began to improve.[3]

1986–1997: Comeback[edit]

In 1986, Tucker signed with Capitol Records; she returned to the charts with "One Love at a Time", which climbed to number three.[2] Her career was revitalized with 1986's Girls Like Me, an album that spawned four top-10 country singles. In 1988, she had three number-one country singles: "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" (with Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet), "If It Don't Come Easy", and "Strong Enough to Bend".[6]

Her music was now more country pop-styled and up-tempo, but this material made Tucker popular again. Between 1988 and 1989, Tucker enjoyed one of her most popular years on the charts, racking up eight country top-10 hits in a row. Her albums around this time were also achieving "Gold" certifications by the RIAA, after selling 500,000 copies. A Greatest Hits album followed in 1989. It also contained a new single called "My Arms Stay Open All Night". Radio responded well; the song peaked at number two.

In 1988, Tucker was nominated by the Country Music Association for "Female Vocalist of the Year", and was nominated for other major awards during this time.

Her contribution to the country music genre was rewarded when the Country Music Association voted her the "Female Vocalist of the Year" in 1991, though she missed the event, having just given birth to her second child. Eight consecutive singles reached the top 10 in the early 1990s, including "Down to My Last Teardrop", "(Without You) What Do I Do with Me", and "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane".[6] In 1990, Tucker was named "Female Video Artist of the Year" by CMT. Although by the 1990s, she no longer had number-one hits, many singles came close peaking in the country top five, as well as the top 10. Tucker was one of the most successful female country artists at the time. She became one of the few teen stars to find success in her adult years.

Her 1993 album Greatest Hits 1990-1992 rose to number 15, and also went to number 18 on the Top Country Albums chart. Liberty Records was changed to Capitol Nashville in 1994.[3]

By the 1990s, Tucker was a 20-year veteran in country music, though she was only in her mid-30s. In 1994, "Hangin' In" was her last top-five hit, as well as her last top-10 hit for a while. That year, she performed at the half-time show at Super Bowl XXVIII. In 1996, she was one of the top-10 most-played artists of the year, and at the time was also Capitol Records' biggest signed female artist. In 1997, she returned to the top 10 on the country charts for the last time with the hit, "Little Things", which peaked at number nine. That year she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

2000–present: Music career today[edit]

Tanya Tucker (right) at the 2005 CMA Music Festival.

In 2002, Tucker founded Tuckertime Records, allowing her to retain control of the recording process and release the singles she wished to release. The same year, she issued Tanya, her first album in five years, which was distributed through Capitol Records. The album was produced by her fiancé, Jerry Laseter, and included a guest vocal by Vince Gill.[3]

In 2002, Tucker was ranked number 20 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music. In 2005, she released an album, Live at Billy Bob's Texas. In 2005, she also contributed two songs to a tribute album to Bob Wills, called A Tribute to Bob Wills 100th Anniversary. In 2005, she released a book, 100 Ways to Beat the Blues on Fireside, which included tips on shaking the blues, from some of Tucker's friends such as Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee, Little Richard, and Burt Reynolds.

Tucker recorded an album, Lonesome Town, which has been put on hold, but a live concert recorded at the Renaissance Center in December was to be released. Tucker sang a duet with country music artist Billy Joe Shaver, of Shaver's song, "Played the Game Too Long", on his latest album, Everybody's Brother, that was released in September 2007.

In 2009, Tucker signed a one-time deal with Saguaro Road Records[7] from Time-Life. Tanya's "Lonesome Town" project was put on hold to do the first cover album of her career, My Turn, which was released in June 2009 and placed number 27 on the Billboard country charts. The first single, "Love's Gonna Live Here", was released to radio and was also available as a digital single. It is a remake of the classic hit by Buck Owens. The album includes classic country hits such as "Wine Me Up", "Lovesick Blues", "You Don't Know Me", "Ramblin' Fever", "Walk Through This World With Me", "Big Big Love", "Crazy Arms", "After The Fire Is Gone", and "Oh Lonesome Me".

Tucker appeared on Terri Clark's 2012 album Classic in a remake duet of her first single "Delta Dawn".

In June 2017, Tucker was featured in Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time.[8]

After the death of former flame Glen Campbell on August 8, 2017, Tucker released her first single since 2009, "Forever Loving You", a song co-penned by Tennessee State Senator Rusty Crowe.[9] The song's release the following day, on the eve of Campbell's funeral, drew ire and criticism being exploitative.[10][11] Tucker claimed that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation of America,[12][13] but the foundation stated it was not involved in the promotion and has not received any funds.[11][10]

Tucker released a new album, While I'm Livin', on August 23, 2019 which is her first collection of original material since 2002's Tanya, in 2019 via Fantasy Records. It was produced by Shooter Jennings and Brandi Carlile, with Carlile being brought onto the project after initially being approached for songs by Jennings but professed such an admiration of Tucker and her work that Jennings felt it necessary for her to co-produce the record alongside him.[14] Tucker performed "Bring My Flowers Now" at Loretta Lynn's all-star 87th birthday concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena with Carlile playing piano.[15] The album's first single, "Hard Luck", was released on June 28, along with its accompanying music video.[16]Along with "Hard Luck", a remake of Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" was released along with "Bring My Flowers Now" and the first video and song released "The Wheels of Laredo". https://fantasyrecordings.com/releases/while-im-livin/The album has been praised by critics, peers, fans and is being called the very best album of her 47 year career with many predicting a Grammy nod. The album contained 10 new recordings by Tanya and 7 of which were specifically written for her by Brandi and twin brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth. It charted on Billboard's Country Charts (debuting in the Top #10) and Americana Charts as well while she continues to tour and promote the new album on shows such as "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" and "NBC's Today Show". https://www.albumism.com/reviews/tanya-tucker-while-im-livin https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/8528489/tanya-tucker-while-im-livin-interview-brandi-carlile https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/tanya-tucker-fallon-tonight-show-brandi-carlile-880908/

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Tanya Tucker among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[17]

In 2019 Tanya re-recorded "Delta Dawn" with Brandi Carlile and Tenille Townes for Cracker Barrel's 50th year CD celebrating the Women of Country Music: Then and Now. https://theboot.com/tenille-townes-tanya-tucker-brandi-carlile-collaboration/

Outlaw image[edit]

Tucker is one of the few and best-known female country singers to be classified as an "Outlaw" in the Outlaw country movement, which was most popular in the late 1970s. As Tucker matured by the end of the 1970s, her Outlaw image grew. Like the other Outlaw artists in the business at the time (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Emmylou Harris, David Allan Coe, Hank Williams Jr.), Tucker was able to combine qualities of country and rock music into her voice to make the Outlaw sound that was popular at the time. These qualities could be heard on some of her biggest hits at the time, including 1978's "Texas (When I Die)". Tucker also had a spirit of independence, which was another Outlaw quality. She ranked number nine on CMT's Dozen Greatest Outlaws, the only woman to appear on that list.

As the 1980s progressed, Tucker continued to add the Outlaw qualities to her hits. At the beginning of the 1990s, Tucker was still identified as an Outlaw. Today, Tucker continues to be recognized as one, regularly attending Outlaw events among regular shows. Gretchen Wilson made reference to Tucker in her 2004 hit song "Redneck Woman", and Tucker appears briefly in the video of the song, showing Tucker with other Outlaws.

Other works[edit]

Tanya appeared as a celebrity judge on Dance Fever in 1979.

Tanya appeared as a celebrity contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" in 1994 along with Little Richard.

Tucker published a 1997 autobiography, Nickel Dreams: My Life.

Tucker starred in her own reality show, Tuckerville, on TLC in 2005. It ran for two seasons for a total of 26 episodes.[18] The show covers an in-depth visit with Tucker in her home with her family.

In 2005, Tucker released "100 Ways To Beat the Blues" a book filled with remedies from many friends and other celebrities.

Tanya performed on the 2019 CMT Awards for the first time since 1994, along with Trisha Yearwood, Deana Carter, Martina McBride, Brandi Carlile and more.

Tanya performed at the 2019 Farm Aid for the first time since 1985 (the very first Farm Aid)

Tanya made her first appearance at Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2019 with Brandi Carlile.

Tanya also performed and promoted her 2019 CD opening the CMA Fest in Nashville 2019 and several events during AmericanaFest.

Tanya appeared in the "The Highwomen" video of "Redesigning Women" along with Wynonna Judd and many more newer female artists.

Tanya taped an episode of CMT's new version of "Nashville Squares" in November 2019.

Personal life[edit]

Tucker had relationships with various entertainers, most notably with Glen Campbell from 1980 to 1981.[19] She also dated Merle Haggard, Andy Gibb, and Don Johnson.

Tucker later had a relationship with actor Ben Reed, with whom she had daughter Presley Tanita (born July 5, 1989) and son Beau "Grayson" (born October 2, 1991).[20]

Tucker has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Jerry Laseter, a Nashville musician. They were engaged for the first time in 1997 and again in 1999. Just days before their 1999 wedding, Tucker cancelled the ceremony when she discovered she was pregnant with her third child, Laseter's daughter Layla LaCosta (born June 25, 1999),[21] saying she did not want to walk down the aisle pregnant in her wedding dress. Laseter was co-producer of Tucker's albums in 2002 (Tanya), 2005 (Live at Billy Bob's Texas), and 2009 (My Turn).

Tanya dyed her hair pink in support of her best friend who was battling cancer for the third time. She says it will stay pink until her friend goes into remission.

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Award Program Award
1972 Academy of Country Music Awards Top New Female Vocalist
1973 Music City News Country Most Promising Female Artist of the Year
1991 Country Music Association Awards Female Vocalist of the Year
1993 Academy of Country Music Awards Video of the Year; "Two Sparrows In a Hurricane"
1994 CMT June Artist of the Month
Country Music Association Awards Album of the Year; Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles (Various Artists)
1995 Country Weekly's Golden Pick Tomorrows Legend
1997 CMT March Artist of the Month
2002 CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music Ranking — No. 20
2016 Academy of Country Music Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award

Grammy nominations[edit]

Year Award Song Result
1973 Best Female Country Vocal Performance "Delta Dawn" Nominated
1975 "Would You Lay with Me (In A Field of Stone)" Nominated
1980 Best Female Rock Vocal Performance TNT (album) Nominated
1981 Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group "Dream Lover" (with Glen Campbell) Nominated
1988 Best Female Country Vocal Performance "Love Me Like You Used To" Nominated
1989 "Strong Enough to Bend" Nominated
1992 "Down to My Last Teardrop" Nominated
1993 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals "Tell Me About It" (with Delbert McClinton) Nominated
1994 Best Female Country Vocal Performance "Soon" Nominated
Best Country Collaboration with Vocals "Romeo" Nominated



Studio albums


  1. ^ "Tanya Tucker Celebrates Birthday in Downtown Nashville". Cmt.com. Archived from the original on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tanya Tucker biography at Allmusic
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tanya Tucker Biography Archived 2007-12-16 at the Wayback Machine at Musician Guide
  4. ^ Dickerson, James L. (April 1988). "Good Friends Make the Best Records". Nine-O-One Network Magazine, pp. 32-35.
  5. ^ "Billboard Not Country Singles" (PDF). Americanradiohistory.com.
  6. ^ a b "Tanya Tucker". Cmt.com. Archived from the original on 2018-05-03.
  7. ^ "Saguaro Road website". Saguaroroad.com. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  8. ^ Jon Freeman (June 15, 2017). "100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time: 67. Tanya Tucker". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 5, 2017.
  9. ^ Zach Vance (August 11, 2017). "Tennessee lawmaker co-wrote Glen Campbell tribute song". Johnson City Press. Archived from the original on August 18, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Rachel Desantis (August 27, 2017). "Glen Campbell's widow Kim reportedly thinks Tanya Tucker is exploiting his death: It's 'callous and disrespectful'". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Slaughter, Duke (2017-08-15). "Glen Campbell's Former Fling Wrote a Love Song About Him—And It's Pretty Gross". Ocweekly.com. Archived from the original on 2017-10-20. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  12. ^ "Tanya Tucker on Glen Campbell: 'I'll Forever Love You, Glen'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2017-10-14. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  13. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie. "A 'devastated' Tanya Tucker releases song to honor former flame Glen Campbell". Latimes.com. Archived from the original on 2018-01-05. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  14. ^ Liptak, Carena. "Tanya Tucker Teams With Brandi Carlile, Shooter Jennings for New Documentary + Album". Theboot.com.
  15. ^ Liptak, Carena. "WATCH: Tanya Tucker Performs New Song at Loretta Lynn's Birthday Bash". Theboot.com.
  16. ^ Liptak, Carena (2016). "WATCH: Tanya Tucker's 'Hard Luck' Turns Into a Winning Streak in New Video". Theboot.com. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  17. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  18. ^ Tuckerville Archived 2015-09-09 at the Wayback Machine on IMDB
  19. ^ Doyle, Patrick. "Glen Campbell, 'Rhinestone Cowboy' Singer Who Fused Country and Pop, Dead at 81". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "Tayna Tucker Full Bio". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Interview With Tanya Tucker". Edition.cnn.com. March 23, 2004. Archived from the original on 11 March 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.


  • Cooper, Daniel (1998). "Tanya Tucker". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 549–50.

External links[edit]