Wilma Burgess

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Wilma Burgess
Wilma Burgess.jpg
Background information
Birth name Wilma Charlene Burgess
Born (1939-06-11)June 11, 1939
Origin Orlando, Florida, United States
Died August 26, 2003(2003-08-26) (aged 64)
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1962–2003
Labels United Artists
Associated acts Jody Miller, Eddy Arnold
Website Wilma Burgess Home Page

Wilma Burgess (born Wilma Charlene Burgess; June 11, 1939 – August 26, 2003)[1] was an American country music singer. She rose to fame in the mid-1960s and charted fifteen singles on the Billboard C&W charts between 1965 and 1975.


Wilma Burgess was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. Following high school graduation she proceeded to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida studying physical education. She had no interest in a musical career - although she had displayed her natural talent performing as a Pop singer on local television - until hearing Eddy Arnold in concert awakened her passion for C&W music.

In 1960 a songwriter friend of Burgess persuaded her to go to Nashville to record some demos of his compositions. One of the publishers Burgess sang for asked to manage her singing career and Burgess cut her first single in the fall of 1962 for the United Artists label.

Eventually Burgess came to the attention of Owen Bradley who heard in Burgess' voice the potential for a successor to the recently deceased Patsy Cline who Bradley had produced.

Bradley arranged for Burgess' signing with Decca where she had her first session in June 1964.

Career peak[edit]

After three unsuccessful single releases Bradley had Burgess record the Ray Griff song "Baby" on 24 September 1965: the track proved to be Burgess' breakout hit reaching No. 7 C&W.

Burgess' expertise with teary ballads was further exemplified with the follow-ups "Don't Touch Me" (#12 C&W) and "Misty Blue" (#4) and logically her successful versions of these C&W classic tunes would have consolidated Burgess' position as a major player on the Nashville scene.

However Burgess' versions of both "Don't Touch Me" and "Misty Blue" were both overshadowed, the first by the concurrent release of a more successful version of "Don't Touch Me" by Jeannie Seely - for whom Hank Cochran (then Seely's husband) had written the song.

Then "Misty Blue" - handed down to Burgess after being rejected by Brenda Lee - was shortly established as a trademark song for Burgess' prime influence Eddy Arnold whose version in the spring of 1967 not only reached No. 3 C&W but became a regional Pop hit reaching No. 57 nationally.

1967 on[edit]

Continuing to record with Owen Bradley, Burgess placed seven more singles on the C&W chart but only the first two of these: "Fifteen Days" (#24) and "Tear Time" (#15) both 1967 reached the Top 40.

Burgess association with Bradley and Decca Records ended in 1971; that same year she signed with Shannon a label owned by Jim Reeves Enterprises (Burgess was a close friend of Reeves' widow Mary Reeves). Five of Burgess' single releases on Shannon appeared on the C&W chart with the 1973 duet with Bud Logan "Wake Me Into Love" providing an on-off return to the Top 40 at No. 14.

In 1975 Burgess left Shannon signing with RCA Records where her uneventful tenure lasted until 1978.

In 1982 she ended her recording career with the album Could I Have This Dance on 51West a Columbia Records label.

Later in the decade Burgess opened the Hitching Post - described as Nashville's first women-only bar - where she regularly performed.

Burgess also worked on and off with Mary Reeves running the Jim Reeves Museum in Nashville.

It has been noted by Jim Ed Brown that Burgess was also a decent poker player, having taken both Ernest Tubb and Tubb's bus driver's money while on tour together.

Burgess was openly a lesbian and preferred to record love songs with no gender-specific references. She did sometimes agree to record songs such as "Ain't Got No Man" on condition that her producer Owen Bradley let her record a song she liked but he didn't.[2]


Wilma Burgess died unexpectedly Monday, August 26, 2003 at 4:05 a.m. at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 64, and had been hospitalized for a week for tests, and had seemed to be on the road to recovery.[3]

  • In 1965 Burgess purchased the Nashville home that had belonged to Patsy Cline; the purchase was made from Cline's widower Charlie Dick. Burgess had attended Cline's 30th birthday party and housewarming at the home six months before Cline's fatal accident. Burgess also purchased Jim Reeves' touring bus "Big Blue."
  • Burgess appeared in the 1966 film The Las Vegas Hillbillys singing "Baby". The film which starred Jayne Mansfield was a B-movie that showcased several top C&W performers.



Year Single US Country Album
1962 "Confuses" non-album singles
1964 "Raining in My Pillow"
1965 "You Can't Stop My Heart from Breaking" Don't Touch Me
"The Closest Thing to Love"
"Baby" 7
1966 "Don't Touch Me" 12
"Misty Blue" 4 Misty Blue
1967 "Fifteen Days" 24
"Tear Time" 15 Tear Time
1968 "Watch the Roses Grow" The Tender Lovin' Country Sound
"Look at the Laughter" 59 Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
1969 "Parting (Is Such Sweet Sorrow)" 68
"The Woman in Your Life" 48 non-album singles
"The Sun's Gotta Shine" 48
1970 "Lonely for You" 63
1971 "Until My Dreams Come True"
"I See Her Love All Over You"
1973 "Feeling the Way a Woman Should"
"I'll Be Your Bridge (Just Lay Me Down)" 61
1974 "Love Is Here" 46
1975 "Baby's Not Forgotten"
"Satisfied Man"
1977 "Use Me"
"Once You Were Mine"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Collaborations with Buddy Logan[edit]

Year Single US Country Album
1973 "Wake Me Into Love" 14 Wake Me Into Love
1974 "The Best Day of the Rest of Our Love' 53
1975 "Love Is the Foundation"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


Year Song US Country A-Side
1975 "Sweet Lovin' Baby" 86 "Love Is Here"

Selected albums[edit]

Year Album US Country
1966 Misty Blue
Don't Touch Me 3
1967 Wilma Burgess Sings Misty Blue 5
Tear Time 36
1968 The Tender Lovin' Country Sound
1969 Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
1974 Wake Me into Love (with Buddy Logan)
1982 Could I Have This Dance


  1. ^ Wilma C. Burgess (2009). "Social Security Death Index [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  2. ^ "6 More Out Lesbian & Bisexual Country Musicians For Your Collection". Autostraddle. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Wilma Burgess at Geocities.com Archived November 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]