Tammy Wynette is one of the most popular figures in country music. Fans love the music Wynette released before her death in 1998, and the singer’s personal life piqued fan interest as well. Towards the end of her life, Wynette became dependent on painkillers and sometimes performed and rehearsed under the influence of it. Because of this, Wynette’s band had a code name for the singer in regards to her use of painkillers.
Tammy Wynette started using painkillers
As she got older, Wynette began to experience health problems. From 1978 until her death in 1998, Wynette was married to Jorge Richey.
It is often speculated that Wynette’s relationship with Richey was abusive, a claim Wynette’s daughter, Georgette Jones corroborates it in his 2011 memoirs The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.
According to Life in the countryside, Jones wrote that Richey, “went to great lengths to separate Mom from her family and friends so that he could be the only person she could turn to. I think he felt that he had no choice and that it was too difficult to fight.”
The boot he also reports that Jones wrote in his book that Richey enabled and encouraged Wynette’s reliance on painkillers.
“There are some people who saw Mom say she didn’t want any pain medication, that they wouldn’t give her any more, and that Richey would continue to inject her anyway,” Jones wrote in the memoir, according to Boot. “There were times when she did want it because she was in pain and he refused to give it to her.”
Tammy Wynette would perform while disabled
Wynette was born in Mississippi in 1942. Her father died when she was less than a year old, and after her father’s death, her mother moved to Tennessee.
The singer lived in Mississippi with her grandparents and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1966 to pursue a music career.
While she was widely known as Tammy Wynette professionally, the singer’s birth name was Virginia Wynette Pugh. When Wynette began performing while disabled, her birth name became a code name.
According to Jimmy McDonough’s 2010 biography Tammy Wynette: Tragic Queen of the Country, “The band even had a saying to clue each other in that Tammy was seriously under the influence: ‘Virginia’s in the house.’ Virginia Pugh was Tammy’s real name, and when Virginia’s name was invoked, she indicated that Wynette was overmedicated.”
The singer was married five times.
Wynette married her first husband, Euple Byrd, when she was 18 in 1960. She left him when she moved to Nashville in 1966 with her three daughters.
After coming to Nashville, she married Don Chapel in 1967. Her third marriage was to another country music artist. george jones. The two married in 1969 and divorced in 1975, but continued to work together in music after their divorce.
Wynette’s fourth marriage was to Michael Tomlin. The two got married in 1977 and were only married for 44 days. Richey was Wynette’s fifth husband and they were married until Wynette died in 1998.