Chart Watch Extra: The Original Queen of Country
Kitty Wells, who died on Monday at 92, was the original "Queen of Country Music." She first lay claim to the title in 1952, long before Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, before Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, even before Patsy Cline.
In August 1952, Wells became the first female solo artist to, all by herself, land a #1 hit on Billboard's country chart. She achieved that feat with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonky Angels."
Wells went on to be the top female country hit-maker of the 1950s and 1960s, according to Joel Whitburn's Hot Country Songs 1944-2008.
Wells amassed 35 top 10 country hits between 1952 and 1965. That stood as the record for a female solo artist until Loretta Lynn finally topped it in January 1976. All these years later, only five female solo artists in country music history have amassed more top 10 hits than Wells (Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Lynn, Tanya Tucker and Tammy Wynette.)
The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Wells in 1976. She was the third female solo artist to make it, following Patsy Cline (who was inducted posthumously in 1973) and down-home comedian Minnie Pearl (1975).
Wells received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. She was the first female country star to earn that honor.
As you can see from these stats, the boast in the title of a 1962 Wells album, Queen Of Country Music, was entirely justified.
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was an answer record to Hank Thompson's 1952 country smash "The Wild Side Of Life" (which included the line, "I didn't know God made honky tonk angels"). Wells' recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
"It Wasn't God…" topped the country chart for six weeks. No female singer, all by herself, equaled that feat until Connie Smith stayed on top for eight weeks from November 1964 to January 1965 with "Once A Day."