To say Tammy Wynette (real name Virginia Wynette Pugh) had a tough childhood is something of an understatement: she never knew her father since he died when she was still a baby and she was subsequently passed back and forth between her impoverished relatives.
As an escape from all this, she threw herself into music, gaining a modicum of acclaim in her local area of Itawamba County, as both a singer and performer.
This was all to end, however, and by the time she was seventeen, Tammy was married to a local construction worker named Euple Byrd, by whom she was to have three children. Euple abandoned Tammy and her children shortly before the birth of their third child.
Things changed for the better though, when in 1966, single parent Tammy, once again attempting to pursue a career in music, decided to pay an unscheduled visit on CBS Records in Nashville.
She subsequently persuaded top CBS producer Billy Sherrill to sign her to their Epic Records label.
Sherrill was to provide the creative impetus for what was to be one of Tammy’s greatest hits of all time, Stand By Your Man.
While recording an album in August 1968, Tammy and Sherrill (who was producing the record) found themselves in need of a final song. Sherrill, desperate to finish, decided to share with Tammy the title of an as-yet-unwritten song.
In less than half an hour the pair had written both the words and music to Stand By Your Man.
In the light of Tammy’s life thus far, the song was not without a fair degree of irony, a point that was lost on America’s feminist lobby, who claimed the song promoted a submissive ideal of married life.
Tammy herself never intended to engage the women’s libbers, as she herself remarked “Sherrill and I didn’t have women’s lib in mind. All we wanted to do was to write a pretty love song.”