Kitty Wells, the country singer known as the first female superstar of her genre, has died. She was 92.
The Associated Press reported that she passed away peacefully at home Monday following complications from a stroke.
The “Queen of Country Music” had a decades-long music career that began in the 1930s, and her solo recording career spanned from 1952 to the late ’70s. She continued touring until 2000.
Well known for hits like “Making Believe” and “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” the singer’s career almost didn’t get off the ground in the first place. The only reason she recorded the latter song was to collect the union-scale wage of $125, the New York Times reports.
She racked up 25 Top 10 country hits, recorded approximately 50 albums, won a slew of awards and was known to be controversial for her time.
“They get away with a lot more today,” Wells told the AP in 1986. “They’re more [sexually] suggestive today.”
“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was particularly controversial – the Grand Ole Opry asked Wells not to perform it, and certain radio stations wouldn’t play the song.
“What I’ve done has been satisfying,” she said in the 1986 AP interview. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
According to the Times, Wells is survived by a son, Bobby; a daughter, Sue Wright Sturdivant; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.