This Day In Music, May 5: Tammy Wynette and Elvis Presley

Happy birthday Tammy, Elvis is still alive somewhere at the "Heartbreak Hotel" waiting for you.

By , Contributor


Happy birthday today to Tammy Wynette who was born Virginia Wynette Pugh, in Tremont, Mississippi on this day in 1942.

Known as the First Lady of Country Music, Wynette sold over 30 million records worldwide, was married five times, and once filed for bankruptcy. Many of her hits dealt with classic themes of loneliness, divorce, and the difficulties of male-female relationships.

Before becoming famous, Tammy had worked as a waitress, receptionist, hairdresser, and barmaid (she would renew her cosmetology license every year for the rest of her life, just in case she should have to go back to a daily job!).

In 1978, she was abducted, beaten, and held in her car for two hours by a kidnapper wearing a ski mask. He held a gun on her and forced her to drive 90 miles from Nashville, Tennessee. She was later released and the kidnapper escaped.

Her best-known song, "Stand By Your Man" (which has become a karaoke classic), was one of the biggest selling hit singles by a woman in the history of the country music genre. During 1968 and 1969, Wynette had five number one hits, including "Take Me to Your World," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and her collaboration in 1991 with British electronica group KLF, "Justified and Ancient," became a No.1 hit in 18 countries.

Tammy Wynette died from cardiac arrhythmia aged 55 on 6th April 1998.


Elvis Presley scored his first US No.1 single and album on this day in 1956, when "Heartbreak Hotel" went to the top of the charts.

Written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton, "Heartbreak Hotel" was Elvis' first release on his new record label RCA Victor. The song gave Elvis his first No.1 pop record, topping Billboard's Top 100 chart, became his first million-seller, and was the best-selling single of 1956.

The song's writers Durden and Axton got the idea for the song after reading a newspaper story about a man who had cut the labels off his clothing and destroyed all documents that could identify him, then left a one-line suicide note. Axton Mae stated that everyone has someone who cares, and when those who love him learn of his death, they'll be brokenhearted, so she came up the idea of putting a "Heartbreak Hotel" at the end of that lonely street.

A few months after the song was completed Mae Axton attended a disc jockey convention in Nashville with "Heartbreak Hotel" on her tape player. She bumped into Elvis and Bob Neal (Presley's manager at the time) in the lobby of a hotel. She invited the pair up to her room to hear her new song "Heartbreak Hotel". Elvis loved the dark brooding song and immediately made plans to record it.

Mae Axton, who became known as the 'Queen Mother of Nashville', wrote over 200 songs, 14 of which made the US charts. She also claimed to have introduced Elvis to his future manager Colonel Tom Parker, shaping the history of music as we know it today.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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