Country singer Tammy Wynette was born in 1942 and died in 1998. She was given the name Virginia Wynette Pugh at birth. When the singer moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to start a music career, she became known professionally as Tammy Wynette.
Tammy Wynette was given a different name at birth
Wynette was born in Mississippi in May 1942. When she was around nine months old, her father died of a brain tumor. After her father’s death, Wynette’s mother moved from Mississippi to Tennessee, leaving Wynette to live with her grandparents.
Wynette lived with her grandparents on the family farm and came to refer to her grandparents as her parents.
According to Country Living, “At age 7, he began working long hours picking cotton with his family, a lesson in hard work he never forgot. Even after Wynette found fame as a singer, she kept a glass bowl full of cotton in her home to remember those days in the cotton field.”
The singer changed her name to Tammy Wynette
Before becoming a singer, Wynette worked a number of different jobs, including as a waitress and hairstylist. While working as a hairdresser, Wynette appeared on The Porter Wagoner Show which gave him some name recognition in music.
In 1966, Wynette moved to Nashville with her three daughters, leaving her first husband, Euple Byrd. She then signed her to a contract with Epic Records.
Signing this record deal with Epic Records is what led Wynette to change her name.
According to Wide Open Country, “Epic Records told him that he might consider changing his name to be more recognizable. Producer Billy Sherrill said that she resembled Debbie Reynolds in the movie. tammy and the bachelor So they decided to change her name to Tammy.”
With this new stage name, Wynette began releasing music under the name Tammy Wynette.
The singer’s real name was sometimes used by her band.
During Wynette’s career, she began to experience health problems that led to her reliance on painkillers. It is widely speculated that Wynette’s fifth husband, George Richey, allowed this dependency based on claims made by Wynette’s daughter Georgette Jones.
According to The Boot, Jones wrote in his 2011 memoir The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George that Richey manipulated Wynette’s use of medications.
“There are some people who saw Mom say she didn’t want any pain medication, that they wouldn’t give her any more, and that Richey would continue to inject her anyway,” Jones wrote in the memoir, according to Boot. “There were times when she did want it because she was in pain and he refused to give it to her.”
Whenever Wynette showed up to performances and rehearsals in trouble, her band used her birth name as a code name.
According to Jimmy McDonough’s 2010 biography Tammy Wynette: Tragic Queen of the Country, “The band even had a saying to clue each other in that Tammy was seriously under the influence: ‘Virginia’s in the house.’ Virginia Pugh was Tammy’s real name, and when Virginia’s name was invoked, she indicated that Wynette was overmedicated.”