MARY FRANCES PENICK (December 30, 1931 – September 19, 2004), known as SKEETER DAVIS, was an American country music singer who sang crossover pop music songs including 1962's "The End of the World ". She started out as part of the Davis Sisters as a teenager in the late 1940s, eventually landing on RCA Victor . In the late 1950s, she became a solo star.
One of the first women to achieve major stardom in the country music field as a solo vocalist, she was an acknowledged influence on Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and was hailed as an "extraordinary country/pop singer" by The New York Times music critic Robert Palmer .
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life * 1.2 Rise to fame * 1.3 1960s * 1.4 1970s * 1.5 Personal life * 1.6 Later years and death * 1.7 Reviews
* 2 Discography * 3 Footnotes * 4 External links
Davis was the first of seven children born to William Lee and Sarah
Rachel Roberts Penick, in
Dry Ridge, Kentucky
RISE TO FAME
RCA Victor producer Steve Sholes liked the Davis Sisters' harmonies and offered the duo a recording contract in 1953. Their most successful release was "I Forgot More Than You\'ll Ever Know ", which spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the country charts in 1953, as well as making the Top 20 on the pop charts. The record ranks No. 65 on the Top 100 Country Singles of All Time, according to Billboard historian Joel Whitburn .
While "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" was climbing the charts, the Davis Sisters were involved in a major car accident on August 1, 1953. The crash killed Betty Jack Davis and left Skeeter with severe injuries. After the accident, Skeeter and Betty Jack's sister, Georgia, continued as the Davis Sisters. Skeeter decided to retire from the music industry in 1956, and get married, ending the duet.
Davis decided to go back into country music as a solo act in 1958. She began touring with Ernest Tubb and she returned to RCA Victor, this time working with guitarist and record producer Chet Atkins . That year, Davis recorded " Lost to a Geisha Girl ", an answer song to Hank Locklin 's hit "Geisha Girl", which reached the country Top 15 and became her first solo hit. Atkins worked with Davis as a guitarist on all of these sessions. At Davis' suggestion, Atkins frequently multi-tracked Davis' voice for harmony vocals to resemble the sound of the Davis Sisters. This echo can be found on several of her early solo hits, such as " Am I That Easy to Forget ".
Davis had a Top 5 country hit, " Set Him Free ", in 1959, as well as another Top 20 hit called " Homebreaker ". She also joined the Grand Ole Opry that year, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Set Him Free", becoming the first female country singer to be nominated for a Grammy.
From 1960 to 1962, Davis had top ten hits with the songs "(I Can\'t
In 1963, Davis achieved her biggest success with country pop
crossover hit "The End of the World ". The song just missed topping
the country and pop charts that year; however, it did top the adult
contemporary charts. The record was also a surprise top five hit on
the rhythm and blues charts, making Davis one of the very few white
female singers to have a top ten hit in that market. The single sold
over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc . "The End of
the World" soon became Davis' signature song. Davis achieved one other
country-pop hit with the
Gerry Goffin and
Carole King -penned "I
Can\'t Stay Mad at You ", which peaked at No. 7 on the pop charts and
No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart in 1963. She made several
appearances on the pop music show
American Bandstand in the early
1960s and a decade later was one of the first country artists to
appear on The Midnight
Another big 1963 hit was I\'m Saving My Love , written by Alex Zanetis.
Davis received five
Grammy Award nominations, including four for Best
Female Country Vocal Performance : 1964 ("He Says the Same Things to
Me "), 1964; ("Sun Glasses "), 1965; ("What Does It Take"), 1967, and
One Tin Soldier ", 1972. Davis was also an accomplished songwriter,
penning almost 70 songs and earning two BMI awards for "Set Him Free"
and "My Last Date With You", the latter also recorded by
Davis' success continued with "I\'m Saving My Love " and 1964's Gonna Get Along Without You Now , an updated cover a 1956 hit by Patience and Prudence ). Both made the Top 10 on the country charts and cracked the Billboard Top 50 pop charts, though the success of "Gonna Get" was likely hampered by another remake of the song by vocalist Tracey Dey simultaneously climbing the charts to peak slightly lower than Davis' version. Later pop efforts, like "Let Me Get Close to You" in July 1964, missed making the Billboard Hot 100 , reflecting the changing nature of pop styles due to the ongoing British Invasion but Davis continued a successful run on the country charts.
In 1965, she recorded a duet with
Bobby Bare called "A Dear John
Letter ", which just missed the country Top 10 and received light pop
action. (The best-known version of the song had been recorded
Jean Shepard and
Ferlin Husky in 1953.) Davis also
recorded quite a few albums during this time, including two tribute
albums I Love
Flatt and Scruggs and
Davis, c. 1965
In 1970, Davis had another Top 10 hit with "I\'m a Lover (Not a
Fighter) " and another duet with
Bobby Bare with "Your Husband, My
Wife". The following year, she had a hit with the autobiographical
"Bus Fare To Kentucky". Subsequently, however, her chart success began
to fade. Singles such as "It's Hard to Be a Woman" and "Love Takes a
Lot of My Time" failed to crack the country Top 40. "One Tin Soldier"
did not get much attention from country radio but was nominated for a
Grammy as Best Female Country Vocal. The record was a major success in
Canada, however, peaking at No. 2 on their easy listening chart and
No. 4 country. Her last major hit was 1973's "I Can't Believe That
It's All Over" which peaked at #12 in country and #101 on the pop
chart. In the 1970s, she began regularly touring foreign countries
Davis had the first and only controversy of her career when during a
Grand Ole Opry
Davis returned to the recording studio in 1976 with a brief stint on Mercury Records which produced two single releases, including her last song to make the national charts, 1976's "I Love Us". In 1978, she recorded the first of several albums for minor record labels which she would do on occasion into the 1990s.
Davis was married three times. Her first husband was Kenneth Depew. In 1960 she married WSM disc jockey Ralph Emery , divorcing in 1964. In 1987 she married NRBQ's bassist Joey Spampinato with whom she had recorded the album She Sings, They Play; they divorced in 1996.
LATER YEARS AND DEATH
Davis lived in Brentwood, Tennessee , from the early 1960s until her death in 2004. Her autobiography, Bus Fare to Kentucky (named after a 1971 song), was published in 1993. In 1998, she wrote a children's book, The Christmas Note, with Cathie Pelletier .
In 2001, she became incapacitated by breast cancer . Davis remained a
member of the
Grand Ole Opry
Davis' song "The End of the World " is referenced in top UK eclectic music blog The Immortal Jukebox.
Main article: Skeeter Davis discography
* I\'ll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too (1959) * Here\'s the Answer (1961) * Skeeter Davis Sings The End of the World (1963)
* ^ Palmer, Robert (1985-12-15). "Critics\' Choice; Pop Music". The
New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
* ^ Deaths,
The Tennessean , September 21, 2004, p. W11, retrieved
November 10, 2013
* ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country
Hits (2 ed.). Billboard Books. p. 101. ISBN 0-8230-8291-1 .
* ^ Feldman, Christopher (2000). The Billboard Book of No 2
Singles. Watson-Guptill. p. 66. ISBN 0-8230-7695-4 .
* ^ Erlewine, Michael (1997). All Music Guide to Country: The
Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings In Country Music (3 ed.). Hal
Leonard Corporation. p. 116. ISBN 0-87930-475-8 .
* ^ A B Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 10 - Tennessee Firebird:
American country music before and after Elvis. " (audio). Pop
University of North Texas Libraries .
* ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.).
London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 0-214-20512-6 .
* ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001.
Record Research. p. 73.
* ^ "CMT News: Grand Ole Opry\'s