Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9: Crystal Gayle - "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" - is 64-years-old today.

Born Brenda Gail Webb in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, her big sister, Loretta Lynn, suggested she change her name to eliminate confusion with her label mate, Brenda Lee. She suggested "Crystal" after noticing a sign for a hamburger restaurant chain.

An award-winning singer, Crystal accumulated twenty number one country hits during the 1970s and 1980s. She is best known for her 1977 country-pop hit, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."

She is also famous for her nearly floor-length hair and was voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world in 1983.

She is 19 years younger than her sister Loretta Lynn, and and is also a distant cousin of singer Patty Loveless.

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Crystal's family moved to Wabash, Indiana when she was four. She started singing along with country and pop songs on the radio, and though shy as a child, she was encouraged by her mother to sing for visitors to the house. Inspired by her sister Loretta Lynn's performance she decided to learn guitar and sing backup in her brothers' folk band. While she was still in high school, Webb began to tour with Loretta Lynn for a few weeks each summer.

After graduating from Wabash High School, Brenda Gail Webb signed on with Decca Records, her sister's record label.

Gayle's debut single, "I've Cried (The Blue Right Out of My Eyes)," was released in 1970 peaking at No. 23 on Billboard's Country singles chart. The song was written by Loretta Lynn and performed in a style very similar to her sister's.

Decca pushed for more records styled like Lynn's with Lynn actually writing more of her early singles. Unfortunately, this approach failed to establish Gayle's own musical identity.

Frustrated, Crystal left Decca and signed with United Artists in 1974 where she teamed with producer Allen Reynolds. Reynolds offered Gayle the creative freedom she wanted helping her develop her own distinctive style.

Her first album, Crystal Gayle, was released in 1974 and produced her first Top Ten country hit, "Wrong Road Again." By 1976, Gayle achieved the first of her 18 Number One country singles, "I'll Get Over You," which also became her first single to reach Billboard's Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart.

She scored two more Top 2 country hits, "You Never Miss A Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye)" and "I'll Do It All Over Again" in 1977 before achieving the greatest success of her career.

Believing Gayle was poised for a larger breakthrough, Reynolds encouraged her to record the jazz-flavored ballad, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." The song became the most successful of Gayle's career spending four weeks atop the country chart.

Gayle earned a Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the song also earned a Grammy as Country Song of the Year for its writer, Richard Leigh. The song helped her album, We Must Believe in Magic, become the first by a female country artist to be certified platinum.

She toured worldwide, including Britain with Kenny Rogers and China with Bob Hope, where she became the first person to tape a performance on the Great Wall of China.

After the success of "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," Gayle and her record producers leaned more toward crossover music with each new release. For the next ten years, she would have her greatest success. Gayle was awarded "Female Vocalist of the Year" for two years by the Country Music Association Awards (1977 and 1978) and for three years by the Academy of Country Music (1976 – 1977 and 1979).

Gayle remade a previously recorded track from her Crystal album, "Ready For The Times To Get Better," as her first single after "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." Although the single became her fourth No. 1 Country hit, it failed to reach the Pop Top 40.

Gayle's next album, When I Dream, had three Top 3 Country hits - the No. 1 songs "Talking in Your Sleep" and "Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For" as well as the No. 3 title track. "Talking In Your Sleep" returned Gayle to the Pop Top 20.

Gayle left United Artists for Columbia Records in 1979 for her next album, Miss The Mississippi. She returned again to the Pop Top 20 with that album's first single, "Half The Way," which became her last solo Top 20 Pop hit.

Gayle started the 1980s with another No. 1 country hit, "It's Like We Never Said Goodbye." This song led a historic Top 5 on the Billboard Country Singles chart on which the Top 5 positions were all held by women.

Gayle was ranked No. 33 in a 2002 CMT countdown of the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music. She was awarded "Best Female Entertainer" in 2007 by the Second Annual American Entertainment Magazine Reader's Choice Awards as she continues to regularly tour the globe.

In February 2008, Crystal was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. On October 2, 2009, Gayle received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a ceremony in Hollywood, California.


For more about Crystal, visit her Website at -


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