Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on May 5, 1942, on a cotton farm in Itawamba County, Mississippi, she spent her youth picking cotton, working as a beautician, a waitress, and a shoe-factory employee before her rise to stardom.
By age seven, Tammy was working the cotton fields along with other relatives on the family farm. Her father’s legacy – a piano, a guitar and the dream that his daughter would make music her life – became her only escape from the dull, arduous routine of farm life. She endured long, backbreaking hours in the cotton fields by daydreaming of singing before thousands of people. Years later, Tammy would still keep a crystal bowl full of cotton in her home to remind her of these meager beginnings.
As a teenage bride she found times even harder than she’d known at home. She had two children within three years and her husband, an itinerant construction worker, was unemployed more often than not. They were finally forced to move into an abandoned log house with no indoor plumbing.
Fed up with poverty and worn out from the drudgery of her life, Tammy enrolled in beauty school in nearby Tupelo, funding her schooling with money given to her by her mother. (Never believing her own hype, Tammy kept her beautician’s license up to date regularly noting “she could always go back to hairdressing.”)
After becoming a beautician, Tammy moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where she gave birth to a third daughter, a 1 lb. 8 oz. premature baby who suffered a near-fatal bout with spinal meningitis before she was four months old. Her shaky marriage crumbled, and while getting a divorce she worked 10 hour days as a hairdresser, after getting up at 4 a.m. each day to sing on the local “Country Boy Eddie” TV show.
Source: Tammy Wynette