- Category : Singer - Country
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 3
Tanya Denise Tucker (born October 10, 1958, in Seminole, Texas) is an American female 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. 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
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 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.
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 she tried out for, but she was hired as a bit player. At 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.
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 Las Vegas, where she regularly performed. Eventually, she recorded a demo tape that gained the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller, who sent it to producer Billy Sherrill, the head of A&R at CBS Records. Sherrill was impressed with the demo tape and signed the teenaged vocalist to Columbia Records.
Country music career
1972 – 1979: Teen country star
Sherrill initially planned to have Tucker record "The Happiest Girl In the Whole USA," but she passed on the tune to Donna Fargo, choosing "Delta Dawn" — a song she heard Bette Midler sing on The Tonight Show — instead. Released in the spring of 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. A year later, Australian singer Helen Reddy would score a No. 1 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."
Her second single, "Love's the Answer," also became a Top Ten 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.
At the time, Tucker was one of the youngest stars ever to enter country music. However, there had been other previous teen country stars before her, including Brenda Lee and her contemporary, Marie Osmond. LeAnn Rimes, Lila McCann, Jessica Andrews, and Taylor Swift would later have country music success at an early age as well.
In 1975, she signed with MCA Records, where she had a string of hit singles that ran into the late '70s.
Among these hits was "Lizzie and the Rainman", which became a No. 1 country hit and also became Tucker's only Top 40 pop music hit, peaking at No. 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.
Two songs from the album became hits, "Texas (When I Die)" and "I'm a Singer, You're the Song." The biggest hit from the album was "Texas (When I Die)" which reached No. 5 on the country charts, and also peaking in the bottom of the pop charts at No. 70.
1979 – 1984: Sales decline and personal battles
By the end of the '70s, her sales were declining — in 1980 she only had two hits. 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.
Despite having a Top 10 hit in late 1982 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.
She had begun drinking in her late teens, and she explained how it started: "You send your ass out on the road doing two gigs a night and after all that adoration go back to empty hotel rooms. Loneliness got me into it." In 1978 Tucker moved to Los Angeles, California, to try, unsuccessfully, to broaden her appeal to pop audiences, and was quickly captivated by the city's nightlife. She also said that she "was the wildest thing out there. I could stay up longer, drink more and kick the biggest ass in town. I was on the ragged edge." The young woman also made gossip columns buzz with a series of romantic involvements. Her famous amours included country singer Merle Haggard (who was 21 years her senior), actor Don Johnson, the late pop singer Andy Gibb, and, most notably, country/pop star Glen Campbell, with whom she had a very stormy relationship and a minor hit duet, "Dream Lover."
Though she moved to Nashville after her breakup with Campbell in 1982 and began to lead a more secluded life, Tucker continued to drink and use cocaine. 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.
As Tucker was battling drugs and alcohol in the early 1980s, her career suffered. In 1984 and 1985, she had no singles on the country charts.
1986 - 1997: Comeback
In 1986 Tucker signed with Capitol Records. In 1986 she returned to the charts with "One Love at a Time," which climbed to number three. Her career was revitalized with 1986's Girls Like Me, an album that spawned four Top 10 country singles. In 1988 she had three No. 1 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."
Her music was now more country pop-styled and up-tempo, but this material was what 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, releasing a Top 5 hit to the country charts that year from the album called "My Arms Stay Open All Night," which peaked at No. 2.
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." In 1990 Tucker was named "Female Video Artist of the Year" by CMT. Although by the 1990s she no longer had No. 1 hits, there were many singles that came close peaking in the Country Top 5 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 Encore 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.
By the 1990s Tucker was a 20-year veteran in country music, even though she was only in her mid-30s. In 1994, "Hangin' On" was her last Top 5 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 that time 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 No. 9. That year she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
2000 – present: Music career today
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.
In 2002 Tucker was ranked No. 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.
Tanya recorded an album, Lonesome Town, which has been put on hold, but a live concert recorded at the Renaissance Center in December will be released. Tanya sang a duet with country music icon 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 Tanya signed a one-time deal with Saguaro Road Records 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 30 June 2009 and placed No. 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".
One of Tanya Tucker's latest debuts was in a music video by "Santana Maria" called "You Have Won My Heart," which can be found on YouTube.
Tanya Tucker appeared on Terri Clark's 2012 album "Classic" in a remake duet of her first single "Delta Dawn".
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 70s. As Tucker matured by the end of the 70s, Tucker's outlaw image grew. Like the other Outlaw artists in the business at the time (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, 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 No. 9 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 90s, 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.
Tucker starred in her own reality show, Tuckerville, on The Learning Channel in 2005. It ran for two seasons for a total of 18 episodes. The show covers an in-depth visit with Tucker in her home with her family.
Tucker continues to perform for the military doing benefits with newer country acts such as Eric Agnew and Cole Deggs & the Lonesome. She has stated in interviews that she is filming new episodes of her reality show "Tuckerville." Since Tucker has moved out of her Nashville home, the show will take place in Malibu, where she currently resides. It will be called "Tucker Time". She stated that another reason for the name change is because TLC wouldn't let them have the previous name.
Tucker has never been married. Since the late 1970s, she has had relationships with a string of fellow entertainers, including country singer Merle Haggard, actor Don Johnson and the late pop singer Andy Gibb. From 1980 to 1981 she had a relationship with country singer Glen Campbell.
Tucker later had a relationship with Ben Reed, a Hollywood actor, with whom she had daughter Presley Tanita (5 July 1989) and son Beau "Grayson" (2 October 1991).
Since the mid-1990s, Tucker has had an on-again off-again relationship with Jerry Laseter, a Nashville songwriter, performer and producer. 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 (25 June 1999), 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).
Tucker also has three siblings: two brothers, Don and Robert (Robert died of pneumonia) and a sister, fellow country music artist LaCosta.