Tanya Tucker had her first country hit in 1972, when she was just 13 years old. Over the succeeding decades, Tucker became one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience, and during the course of her career, she notched a remarkable streak of Top Ten and Top 40 hits.
Tucker was born in Seminole, TX, and much of her childhood was spent moving throughout the Southwest as her father pursued construction jobs. At the age of six she began taking saxophone lessons; two years later she decided she wanted to sing, and made an auspicious debut with Mel Tillis, who was so impressed by her talents that he invited her on-stage to perform. In 1969 Tucker and her family moved to Las Vegas, where she regularly performed. Eventually, she recorded a demo tape that gained the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller, who sent it to producer Billy Sherrill. At the time, Sherrill was the head of A&R at CBS Records, and he was so impressed with the demo tape that he signed the teenaged vocalist to Columbia Records. Sherrill initially planned to have Tucker record "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA," but she passed on the tune, choosing "Delta Dawn" — a song she heard Bette Midler sing on The Tonight Show — instead. Released in the spring of 1972, the song became an instant hit, peaking at number six on the country charts and scraping the bottom of the pop charts.
At first, Columbia Records tried to downplay Tucker's age, but soon word leaked out and she became a sensation — her second single, "Love's the Answer," also became a Top Ten hit later in 1972. Tucker's third single, "What's Your Mama's Name," became her first number one hit in the spring of 1973. Two other number ones — "Blood Red and Goin' Down" and "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)" — followed, establishing Tucker as a major star. In 1975 she signed with MCA Records, where she had a string of hit singles that ran into the late '70s. In 1978 she decided to radically change her image and cross over to rock with her T.N.T. album. Despite the controversy over the record and its sexy cover, it went gold the following year.
By the end of the '70s her sales were declining — in 1980 she only had two hits. Also in 1980, she recorded a few singles with Glen Campbell, with whom she was romantically linked. In addition to recording, she also made her feature film debut in Hard Country. She switched to Arista Records in 1982, where she had several hits, highlighted by the Top Ten "Feel Right." In 1984 and 1985 she had no hits, and signed with Capitol Records. In early 1986 she returned with "One Love at a Time," which rocketed to number three. For the rest of the decade she scored a constant stream of Top Ten singles, including four number one hits. Her success continued in the early '90s, even though her sales began slumping as the decade wore on. By the new millennium, Tucker was still in the game.
Several retrospectives and various hits collections were released; in 2002 Tucker issued her 31st album, her most personal album to date, Tanya. More compilations followed, culminating in the live recording/DVD Live at Billy Bob's Texas in 2005. What could be termed a comeback album, the Pete Anderson-produced and arranged My Turn, appeared in 2009 from Saguaro Road Records. ~ Sandra Brennan & Steve Leggett