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Kitty Wells Passes

KITTY WELLS, 92, the “Queen of Country Music” and the first woman to hit #1 on the Country chart with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” died of complications from a stroke. Wells laid a template for female singers in Country music that started a shift in traditional male-female roles in rural America with “Honky Tonk Angels,” an assertive response to Hank Thompson’s massive 1952 hit “The Wild Side of Life,” in which a man laid all blame on a woman he meets in a honky tonk for breaking up his marriage and returning to “where the wine and liquor flows, where you wait to be anybody’s baby." Wells gave way to such female singers as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris all the way to current vocalists Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. She placed 81 records on the Country charts from 1952-'79, mostly as a solo artist, but also in duets with her husband, Johnnie Wright, her daughter Carol Sue and several with singer Red Foley. Wright died last year at age 97. Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976. (7/16p)

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