Country music icon Kitty Wells dead at 92

July 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM
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NASHVILLE, July 16 (UPI) -- Kitty Wells, known as the Queen of Country Music, died in Madison, Tenn., Monday from complications of a stroke, her grandson, John Sturdivant Jr., said.

She was 92.

Wells, who was born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, released several Top 10 Billboard Country Albums throughout the 1960s, including "The Kitty Wells Story" (1964), "Lonesome Sad and Blue" (1965), "Burning Memories" (1965), "Country All the Way" (1966) and "Queen of Honky Tonk Street" (1968).

The Recording Academy, which hands out the Grammy Awards, said her biggest hit came in 1961 with "Heartbreak U.S.A.," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Country Singles chart. Wells was awarded the Academy Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1991. She also was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The New York Times said singer Johnnie Wright, Wells' husband of more than seven decades, died last year. She is survived by a son, Bobby, a daughter, Sue Wright Sturdivant, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter, Ruby, in 2009.

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