Crystal Gayle was born in 1951 in Paintsville, Kentucky. Gayle's older sister is country legend Loretta Lynn, and following in her footsteps, Gayle set out at an early age to be a musician. She released her first single in 1970 and landed her first No. 1 hit in 1976. "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" would soon make Gayle a crossover superstar, hitting No. 1 on the country chart and No. 2 on the pop chart. That smash led to several others, and Grammy and CMA awards followed Gayle throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Crystal Gayle, originally Brenda Gail Webb, was born in Paintsville, Kentucky, on January 9, 1951. Her family moved to Wabash, Indiana, when Gayle was four, and her father died just a few years later from cancer. Gayle was the youngest of eight children. One of her sisters, already out of the house when Gayle was born, was future country music legend Loretta Lynn.
Gayle was a singer from a young age, and her love of music, and her sister’s success, inspired her to pick up a guitar and perform in high school. She also sang backup in her brother’s band and accompanied Lynn on tour, getting an early taste of the life of a professional touring musician.
Hitting the Charts
In 1970, Decca Records released Gayle’s first single, "I've Cried (The Blues Right Out of My Eyes)," a traditional country song written by Lynn that landed in the top 40 on the country chart. The label was more than happy to have Gayle follow in her sister’s famous footsteps, and they released three more singles over the next three years, all of which helped Gayle get some footing with listeners. But Gayle decided early on in her career that she wanted to make a name for herself on her own terms, and she left Decca for United Artists in 1974. There, Gayle was set free musically, and her first album, Crystal Gayle, was released that same year. “Wrong Road Again” became her first bona fide hit, finding a spot in the top 10 on the country chart.
Two years later, Gayle would find her way to No. 1 with “I'll Get Over You," and hot on its heels came the crossover smash "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," which hit No. 1 on the country charts and No. 2 on the pop charts. The album from which the hit came, We Must Believe in Magic, helped earn Gayle her first Grammy, for Best Female Country Vocal, and she became the first female country artist to go platinum.
Also during this period, Gayle made several notable moves into television, starring in her own hour-long prime-time TV specials and hosting a concert special on HBO and a Christmas special. When the world saw Gayle through these appearances, with her signature hair, stretching nearly to the floor, her fan base grew by leaps and bounds.
The 1970s were a career-making decade for Gayle, and the success she found with “Brown Eyes” continued with several more No. 1 country hits, including "You Never Miss a Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye)" and "Talking in Your Sleep" (also a hit on the pop chart). In 1980, she landed at the top of the charts again with "If You Ever Change Your Mind" and "It's Like We Never Said Goodbye.” In 1981, "You and I," a duet with Eddie Rabbitt, was another crossover hit, and she made it to No. 1 five more times over the next few years.
While Gayle continued to record sporadically in the 1990s and 2000s, she saw her last hit in 1986 with “Cry.” She married Bill Gatzimos in 1971 and the couple have two children. She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009.
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