Kitty Wells, Queen of Country Music, Dies at 92
Kitty Wells was a 33 year old wife and mother when she finally made it big with her 1952 country hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels.” The song, with lyrics written by J.D. Miller, was a response to Hank Thompson’s #1 hit “Wild Side of Life,” in which Thompson blames a woman he picks up at a bar for breaking up his marriage. Postwar women fell in love with Wells and “Honkey Tonk Angels.” At the dawn of suburbia, when divorce rates where rapidly climbing, the song felt like a feminist anthem, and Wells, who opened the door for many future female country artists, became a spokeswoman for equality.
According to the New York Times, The NBC radio network banned Ms. Wells’s record for its “suggestive” content, and the Grand Ole Opry would was reluctant to let her perform it on their show. The Opry eventually relented, partially because of the song’s popularity and Ms. Wells’s nonthreatening image.
Over the next 27 years Mrs. Wells went on to record 84 singles on the country charts, 38 of which became Top 10 hits. She was a radio DJ and in 1968 had her own syndicated TV program. In the seventies she also recorded an album with members of the Marshal Tucker Band and the Allman Brothers.
Last year Wells’s husband of over 70 years, Johnnie Wright passed away. He lived to be 97. She lived to be 92.