Friday, December 6, 2013

Crystal Gayle, The #85 Female Artist of the Rock Era

Crystal Gayle (real name Brenda Lee Webb) was born in Paintsville, Kentucky.  The youngest of eight children of a poor family, she was the only child born in a hospital.  The family moved to Wabash, Indiana when she was four.  Inspired by her sister Loretta Lynn's success, she learned to play guitar and sing backup in her brothers' folk band.  While in high school, Brenda began to tour with her sister for a few weeks each summer.

After graduating from Wabash High School, Brenda signed a recording contract with Decca Records.  Since there was, of course, already a Brenda Lee, she adopted the stage name of Crystal Gayle.

Lynn wrote most of Crystal's early songs, and she had two minor Country hits but no Popular success.  Gayle left Decca and signed with United Artists, which offered her the creative freedom she wanted.  Her self-titled debut album was released in 1974 and it gave her a Top 10 Country song. 

In 1976, Gayle landed a #1 Country song with "I'll Get Over You", but it was only #71 overall.  It wasn't until "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" that anyone outside of the smaller Country market had heard of her.  It was #1 on the Country chart for four weeks, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #2 for three weeks on the Popular chart.  The single sold over one million copies and earned Crystal a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Gayle won her first and only Grammy Award for Favorite Female Country Vocal Performance for "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue".  Gayle became the first female artist in Country music history to attain Platinum sales (one million albums sold) with We Must Believe in Magic.   The follow-up single only hit #52 overall, but it was #3 on the up-and-coming Adult Contemporary format.

In 1978, Crystal was back with the album When I Dream.  The single "Talking In Your Sleep" clicked with the public, reaching #3 AC and #18 on the Popular chart.  Gayle captured the American Music Award for Favorite Female Country Artist.

Gayle switched to Columbia Records in 1979 and released the album Miss the Mississippi.  The single "Half The Way" was a #15 song and #9 on the AC chart.  Crystal repeated as Favorite Female Country Artist at the American Music Awards.

Gayle scored a Country #1 in 1980 with "It's Like We Never Said Goodbye", which reached #17 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #63 overall.  Her song "If You Ever Change Your Mind" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.  

In 1982, Gayle recorded songs for the movie One from the Heart and then switched labels again to Elektra Records.  She recorded "You And I" with Eddie Rabbitt for his album Radio Romance.  The song was a #2 AC smash and gave Gayle another popular hit at #7.

Gayle's album True Love generated three #1 Country songs, with the single "Baby, What About You" reaching #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart:

Gayle released the album Cage the Songbird in 1983.  The single "The Sound Of Goodbye" was her final popular hit, reaching #10 on the AC chart and #84 overall.

In 2009, Gayle received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gayle collected three popular hits, but eight on the more-important Adult Contemporary chart, with half of those reaching the Top 10.

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