Tanya Denise Tucker (born October 10, 1958, in Seminole, Texas) is an American country music artist who had her first hit, "Delta Dawn", in 1972 at the age of 13. Over the succeeding decades, Tucker became one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience, and during the course of her career, she notched a streak of Top 10 and Top 40 hits. She has produced a long string of successful albums, several nominations for awards from the Country Music Association, and hit songs that includes 1973's "What's Your Mama's Name?" and "Blood Red and Going Down," 1975's "Lizzie and the Rainman," and 1988's "Strong Enough to Bend".
Childhood before fame
Tucker was the youngest of three children. Her father, Jesse "Bo" Tucker, was a heavy equipment operator, and the family moved often as he sought better work. Tanya's early childhood was spent primarily in Willcox, Arizona, where the only radio station in town played country music. The Tuckers also went to the concerts of country stars such as Ernest Tubb and Mel Tillis, and Tanya's older sister LaCosta was praised in the family for her vocal abilities. At the age of eight, Tanya told her father that she, too, wanted to be a country singer when she grew up.
Meanwhile, the Tuckers moved again, this time to Saint George, Utah, and there Tanya's mother, Juanita, took her daughter to audition for the film Jeremiah Johnson. Tanya did not win the bigger role she tried out for, but she was hired as a bit player. At about this time she also got one of her first musical breaks, due to the dedication of her father. He drove Tanya and the rest of the family to Phoenix for the Arizona State Fair, on the chance that the featured performer, country singer Judy Lynn, could use Tanya in her show. Tanya sang for the fair's entertainment people, and she went on to sing at the fair itself.
She made her debut with Mel Tillis, who was so impressed by her talents that he invited her onstage to perform. In 1969, Tucker and her family moved to Las Vegas, where she regularly performed. Eventually, she recorded a demo tape that gained the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller, who sent it to producer Billy Sherrill. At the time, Sherrill was the head of A&R at CBS Records, and he was so impressed with the demo tape that he signed the teenaged vocalist to Columbia Records.
Country music career
1972 ? 1979: Teen country star
Sherrill initially planned to have Tucker record "The Happiest Girl In the Whole USA," but she passed on the tune to Donna Fargo, choosing "Delta Dawn" ? a song she heard Bette Midler sing on The Tonight Show ? instead. Released in the spring of 1972, the song became a hit, peaking at number six on the country charts and scraping the bottom of the pop charts. At first, Columbia Records tried to downplay Tucker's age, but soon word leaked out and she became a sensation. A year later, Australian singer Helen Reddy would score a #1 U.S. pop hit with her version of "Delta Dawn."
Her second single, "Love's the Answer," also became a Top Ten hit later in 1972. Tucker's third single, "What's Your Mama's Name," became her first number one hit in the spring of 1973. Two other number ones ? "Blood Red and Goin' Down" and "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)" followed, establishing Tucker as a major star. At the time, Tucker was one of the youngest stars to ever enter Country music. However, there had been other previous teen Country stars before her, including Brenda Lee and her contemporary, Marie Osmond. LeAnn Rimes would later have success at an early age as well.
In 1975, she signed with MCA Records, where she had a string of hit singles that ran into the late '70s. Among these hits was "Lizzie and the Rainman," which became a #1 Country hit and also became Tucker's only Top 40 Pop music hit, peaking at #37. It also peaked among the Top 10 on the Adult Contemporary charts at the time. Tucker has a string of Top 10 Country hits under MCA between 1975 and 1978, including "San Antonio Stroll", "Here's Some Love" and "It's a Cowboy-Lovin Night".
In 1978, she decided to radically change her image and cross over to rock with her TNT album. Despite the controversy over the record and its sexy cover, it went gold the following year. Two songs from the album became hits, "Texas (When I Die)" and "I'm a Singer, You're the Song." The biggest hit from the album was "Texas (When I Die)" which reached #5 on the Country charts, and also peaking in the bottom of the Pop charts at #70.
1979 ? 1984: Sales decline and personal battles
By the end of the '70s, her sales were declining ? in 1980 she only had two hits. Also in 1980, she recorded a few singles with Glen Campbell, with whom she was romantically linked. In addition to recording, she also made her feature film debut in Hard Country. Despite having a Top 10 hit in 1982 with her album Changes, she still remained unsuccessful By 1983, her singles were no longer making the Top 40.
She had begun drinking in her late teens, and she explained how it started: "You send your ass out on the road doing two gigs a night and after all that adoration go back to empty hotel rooms. Loneliness got me into it." In 1978 Tucker moved to Los Angeles, California, to try, unsuccessfully, to broaden her appeal to pop audiences, and was quickly captivated by the city's nightlife. She also said that she "was the wildest thing out there. I could stay up longer, drink more and kick the biggest ass in town. I was on the ragged edge." The young woman also made gossip columns buzz with a series of romantic involvements. Her famous amours included country singer Merle Haggard who was 21 years older than Tucker), actor Don Johnson, the late pop singer Andy Gibb, and?most notably?country and western star Glen Campbell, with whom she had a very stormy relationship and a minor hit duet, "Dream Lover."
Though she moved to Nashville after her breakup with Campbell in 1982 and began to lead a more secluded life, Tucker continued to drink and use cocaine. Finally, in 1988, her family confronted her and persuaded her to enter the Betty Ford Center. At first, Tucker rebelled against her treatments, but after private counseling sessions she began to improve. While Tucker was battling drugs and alcohol in the early 80s, her music career was suffering. In 1984 and 1985, she had no released singles to the Country charts.
1986 ? 1997: Return to country
In 1986, Tucker signed with Capitol Records. In 1986, she returned with "One Love at a Time," which climbed to number three. Tucker's career was revitalized with 1986's album, Girls Like Me, an album that spawned four Top 10 country singles. In 1988, she had three No. 1 country singles: "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" (with Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet), "If It Don't Come Easy" and "Strong Enough to Bend."
Her music was now more country pop-styled and up-tempo, but this material was what made Tucker popular again. Between 1988 and 1989, Tucker endured one of her most popular years on the charts, racking up nearly eight Country Top 10 hits in a row. Her albums around this time were also achieving "Gold" certifications by the RIAA, after selling 500,000 copies. A Greatest Hits album followed in 1989, releasing a Top 5 hit to the country charts that year from the album called "My Arms Stay Open All Night," which peaked at #2.
In 1988, Tucker was nominated by the Country Music Association for "Female Vocalist of the Year", and was nominated for other major awards during this time.
After many years in country music, her contributions were finally rewarded when the Country Music Association voted her the "Female vocalist of the Year" in 1991, though she missed the event, having just given birth to her second child. Eight consecutive singles reached the Top 10 in the early 1990s, including "Down to My Last Teardrop," "(Without You) What Do I Do With Me" and "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane." The previous year, she was named by CMT "Female Video Artist of the Year". Although by the early 90s Tucker no longer had #1 hits, there were many singles that came close peaking in the Country Top 5 as well as the Top 10. Tucker was one of the most successful female Country artists at the time. She became one of the few teen stars to find success in her adult years.
In 1993, Greatest Hits rose to number 15 and Soon rose to number 18 on the Top Country Albums chart. Liberty Records was changed to Capitol Nashville in 1994.
By now, Tucker was a 20-year veteran in country music, even though she was only in her mid-30s. In 1994, "Hangin' On" was her last Top 5 hit, as well as her last Top 10 hit for a while. That year she performed at the half-time show at Super Bowl XXVIII. However, Tucker was able to stay in the Country Top 40 this time. In 1996, Tucker was one of the Top 10 most played artists of the year, and that time Capitol Records' biggest signed female artist. In 1997, she returned to the Top 10 on the Country charts for the last time with the hit, "Little Things", which peaked at #9. That year, she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
2000 ? present: Music career today
In 2002 she founded Tuckertime Records, allowing her to retain control of the recording process and release the singles she wished to release. The same year she issued Tanya, her first album in five years, and received distribution through Capitol. The album was produced by her fianc?, Jerry Laseter, and included a guest vocal by Vince Gill.
In 2002, Tucker was ranked #20 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music in 2002. She has also continued to release albums. In 2005, she released an album called Live at Billy Bob's Texas. That same year, she contributed two songs to a tribute album to Bob Wills, called A Tribute to Bob Wills 100th Anniversary. The year continued to make Tucker busy, now with a new book called 100 Ways to Beat the Blues on Fireside, which included tips on pulling yourself out of the dumps, from some of Tucker's good friends, like Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee, Little Richard, and Burt Reynolds.
Tanya recorded a new album titled Lonesome Town, it has been put on hold, but a new Live concert recorded at the Renissance Centre, back in December, will be released. Tanya sang a duet with country music icon Billy Joe Shaver, of Shaver's song, "Played the Game Too Long," on his latest album, Everybody's Brother, released September 2007.
In 2009 Tanya signed a one time deal with SAGUARO ROAD RECORDS from TimeLife. Tanya's "Lonesome Town" project was put on hold to do the first cover album of her career. My Turn was released June 30, 2009 and placed #27 on the billboard country charts. The first single "Love's Gonna Live Here" was released to radio and was also available as a digital single. It is a remake of the classic hit by Buck Owens. The rest of the album includes other classic country hits by the men of country music such as "Wine Me Up", "Lovesick Blues", "You Don't Know Me", "Ramblin' Fever", "Walk Through This World With Me", "Big Big Love", "Crazy Arms", "After The Fire Is Gone" and "Oh Lonesome Me".
Tucker is one of the few and best-known female Country singers to be classified as an "Outlaw" in the Outlaw country movement, which was most popular in the late 70s. As Tucker matured by the end of the 70s, Tucker's outlaw image grew. Like the other Outlaw artists in the business at the time (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, Hank Williams Jr.), Tucker was able to combine qualities of Country and Rock music into voice to make the Outlaw sound that was popular at the time. These qualities could be heard on some of her biggest hits at the time, including 1978's "Texas (When I Die)." Tucker also had a spirit of independence, which was another Outlaw quality. She ranked #9 on CMT's Dozen Greatest Outlaws, the only woman to appear on that list.
As the 80s progressed, Tucker continued to add the Outlaw qualities to her hits. At the beginning of the 90s, Tucker was still identified as an Outlaw. Today, Tucker continues to be reognized as one, regularly attending Outlaw events among regular shows. Gretchen Wilson made reference to Tucker in her 2004 hit song "Redneck Woman," and Tucker appears briefly in the video of the song, showing Tucker with other Outlaws.
Other careers and works
Since Tucker's hit-making days, she has published an autobiography that hit the bookstores in 1997 called Nickel Dreams: My Life.
Tucker also starred in her own reality show, Tuckerville, on The Learning Channel in 2005. It ran for two seasons for a total of 18 episodes. The show is an in-depth visit of Tucker behind the scenes in her home with her family. Tucker also continues to perform for the military doing benefits with up and coming country acts such as Eric Agnew and Cole Deggs and the Lonesome. Tanya has stated in several recent interviews that she is filming new episodes of her reality show "Tuckerville." Since Tanya has now moved out of her Nashville home, the show will now take place in Malibu, where Tanya is currently living and it will be called "Tucker Time". Tanya recently stated that another reason for the name change is because TLC wouldn't let them have the name.
Since the late 70s, Tucker was involved in numerous relationships with fellow entertainers. Her best known relationship was with Country-Pop singer-songwriter, Glen Campbell from 1980-1981. Together they recorded a number of duet recordings which did not reach the Top 40. The two were even briefly engaged in the early 80s. A stormy relationship filled with drugs and physical abuse eventually caused the two to end their love affair by 1981. Tucker later stated that Campbell abused her physically during the course of their relationship and that he had knocked out her teeth.
Since then, Tucker continued to date into the 80s and 90s. One of her serious relationships included boyfriend, Ben Reed, a Hollywood actor, with whom she had children Presley Tanita and Beau "Grayson". However, they eventually broke up.
In the new millennium, Tucker became engaged to Jerry Laseter, a Nashville songwriter, who also helped produce her 2002 album and is the father of her daughter Layla. The couple had an on-again off-again relationship since becoming engaged for the first time in 1997. In 1999, just days before their wedding, Tucker canceled it once she discovered she was pregnant with Laseter's baby (Layla) saying she didn't want to walk down the aisle pregnant in her wedding dress.
Tucker has three children; Daughter: Presley Tanita (b. 5-Jul-1989), a son: Beau "Grayson" (b. 2-Oct-1991), and a daughter Layla LaCosta Laseter (b. 25-Jun-1999). Tucker also has three siblings; two brothers, Don and Robert (Robert died of pneumonia) and an older sister, LaCosta.
Awards & honors
Academy of Country Music Awards
Top New Female Vocalist
Music City News Country
Most Promising Female Artist of the Year
Best Recording for Children; In Harmony A Sesame Street Record (w/ various artists)
Country Music Association Awards
Female Vocalist of the Year
Academy of Country Music Awards
Video of the Year; "Two Sparrows In a Hurricane"
June Artist of the Month
Country Music Association Awards
Album of the Year; Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles (w/ various artists)
Country Weekly's Golden Pick
March Artist of the Month
CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music
Ranking ? #20