Patty Loveless Biography

Patricia Lee Ramey, 4 January 1957, Pikeville, Kentucky, USA. The youngest of eight children, she began to write songs and sing in local venues with her brother Roger, after the family relocated to Louisville. When she was 14 years old they visited Nashville, where her singing and songwriting so impressed the Wilburn Brothers (although they felt she was not mature enough to record), that they offered her the opportunity to work on their shows. She combined singing and schooling, but in 1973, after marrying Terry Lovelace, who played drums with the Wilburns, she relocated to North Carolina, and for a time, finding the current country music did not suit her more traditional preferences, she left the music scene. During this time her marriage ended and a second marriage to a rock musician also floundered in the mid-80s, seemingly because he told her to give up country.

Eventually, she resumed her singing career (even singing some rock ‘n’ roll in local clubs) and, using the name Loveless to avoid being confused with porn actress Linda Lovelace, she moved to Nashville in 1985. She became a staff writer at Acuff-Rose Music and her brother Roger (acting as her manager) persuaded his friend Emory Gordy Jnr. , a producer and musician at MCA Records, to record her. Loveless made her chart debut in 1985 with ‘Lonely Days, Lonely Nights’ and her career was firmly established by her debut album, Patty Loveless. In 1988, she had her first Top 10 successes with ‘If My Heart Had Windows’, which George Jones had first charted 21 years earlier, and her version of Steve Earle’s ‘A Little Bit Of/In Love’. She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1988 and in 1989, she married Emory Gordy Jnr. She continued to record chart-making songs, enjoying country number 1s with ‘Timber, I’m Falling In Love’ and ‘Chains’, and further hits with ‘Blue Side Of Town’, ‘Don’t Toss Us Away’ and ‘The Lonely Side Of Love’. The attendant Honky Tonk Angel was a major hit.

In 1992 Loveless recorded a successful duet, ‘Send A Message To My Heart’, with Dwight Yoakam. Later in the year she underwent surgery for a leaking blood vessel on her vocal cords, and in spite of some initial concern, she soon recovered. Believing that it was time to make some changes, she reluctantly dispensed with her brother’s management and moved to the Epic label. She is quoted as saying, ‘The goal was to find a real good style and just have a lot of fun with it’. She quickly gained a number 1 country hit, ‘Blame It On Your Heart’, which also nudged the pop charts. Loveless’ 1995 hit, ‘Here I Am’, reinforced her approach; adhering to her belief in hard country music, she says, ‘You’re gonna hear that old bluegrass style, those blues licks when I sing. It’s who I am - and I can’t leave that behind. What we sang growing up was more old mountain style music, white man’s blues, and that’ll always be in there’. Although she never mentioned the fact when she was struggling to make her name, Loveless is actually a cousin of Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Peggy Sue and Jay Lee Webb. Cousin Loretta finally broke the news one day on live television.

Loveless continued her run of success during the mid-90s with the country number 1s ‘You Can Feel Bad (If It Makes You Feel Better)’ and ‘Lonely Too Long’, and she was voted Best Female Vocalist at the 1997 Country Music Association Awards. The same year’s Long Stretch Of Lonesome was a less successful foray into country pop. A long recording break further dimmed her commercial appeal and 2000’s Strong Heart met with general indifference. This was soon rectified by the swift appearance of the bluegrass-inspired Mountain Soul less than a year later, and a revitalized Loveless opted to maintain her new direction on the seasonal collection Bluegrass & White Snow: A Mountain Christmas (2002) and the sparkling On Your Way Home (2003).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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