Tuned in concert Tampa, Florida (Expo Hall) 1995
With her rich voice and trademark ankle-length mane of silky brunette hair, Crystal Gayle was an extremely popular performer of mainstream country ballads during the '70s and '80s. Born Brenda Gail Webb in Paintsville, Kentucky she is the much younger sister of Country legend Loretta Lynn, something that has both boosted and initially, hindered her career. Though they share the same biological father, Gayle and Lynn had very different upbringings. Gayle was born in the Kentucky mining town, but after 1955 was raised in Wabash, Indiana. When she was 16, Gayle began touring with Lynn's show. Her connection to Lynn helped Gayle get a contract with Decca records in 1970. Her first single was a cover of her sister's song "I've Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes," and made it to the Top 30. While it was a good start, Gayle, was troubled by the fact that most of her fame came from being the sister of Loretta Lynn. She sang Lynn's songs and was encouraged to utilize her big sister's style. Matters were not helped by the fact that it was Lynn who nicknamed her Crystal after her constant cravings for "Krystal" hamburgers and that her manager was Moony, Lynn's husband. Gayle had to really struggle to move out from her bigger sister's shadow. She began appearing regularly on Jim Ed Brown's "The Country Place" television show in 1972 and later signed to United Artists where she began working with producer Allen Reynolds. It was he who helped her develop a gentler and perhaps more homogenized style that had so helped Reynolds other client, Don Williams.
Gayle released her eponymous debut album in 1975 and it provided her with three hits. One of them, "Wrong Road Again," written by Reynolds, made it to the Top 10. Later that year, she released a second album "Somebody Loves You" and by the year's end had begun to develop a following unique from her sisters. In 1976, Gayle had her first number one country hit with "I'll Get Over You." The tune also marked the first of several forays onto the pop charts. She followed up with a second chart topper "You Never Miss a Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye)" and by year's end was the ACM's "Outstanding Female Vocalist." It was in 1977, that Gayle had her biggest success with her signature song "Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue." A song written by Richard Leigh, and deliberately selected by the canny Reynolds to establish Gayle in both the country and pop markets. The ploy worked and she found herself with a number one on the country charts, a Top three hit on the pops, and a major hit in Great Britain. The album from which the song came, "We must Believe in Magic," went gold soon afterward and a year later went platinum. The song "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" won Grammys for both Gayle and Leigh, and won her accolades from the CMA. The next year, Gayle's star climbed even higher with three number ones that included the monster international cross-over hit "Talking in Your Sleep." Already a three-time veteran at England's Wembley Country Music Festival, Gayle received an even greater honor when she became the first American country performer to visit China as part of Bob Hope's "Trip to China" television special in 1979. Later that year, she hosted her own special on the CBS network.
For Gayle, the hits and accolades kept accumulating. She changed labels in 1982 and went to Columbia, making sure that Reynolds accompanied her. Her first Columbia album "Miss the Mississippi" went gold and provided a number of major hits including the top ranked "It's Like We Never Said Goodbye" and "If You Ever Change Your Mind." As icing on that year's cake, she was also named one of the world's most beautiful women. She next moved to Elektra records and had a major crossover success with her duet with Eddie Rabbitt, "You and I." Gayle continued to have extraordinary chart success through the spring of 1987 when she her popularity seemed to gradually wane. She changed labels again and by the early 1990s ended up on the Branson label where she released a newly recorded compilation of her best-loved hits "Best Always." Since then, Gayle seems to have focused on her performing and frequently appears in Las Vegas, Tahoe, and Atlantic City, and in Europe. When not touring, she runs a small ranch and a fine crystal shop near Nashville. ~ Sandra Brennan
© In-Tune Productions 2002