Country music superstar Reba McEntire married her first husband, Charlie Battles, on this day in 1976.
At the time, Battles was a 31-year-old steer-wrestling champion. McEntire, on the other hand, was a 21-year old up-and-coming singer whose career would skyrocket within the next five years.
In an interview with People Magazine, McEntire recalled the simple, happy life she and Charlie built together with his two sons–Lance and Coty.
“I loved Charlie with all my heart, I wanted to marry him… We had a lot of fun,” she said. “We rodeoed together, we ranched together.”
Reba Begins to Take Flight
It wasn’t long after Reba and Charlie married that her career began to take flight. In 1977, she released her single “I Don’t Want to be a One Night Stand” which reached No. 88 on the Billboard country music charts. The next year, she released her self-titled debut album.
However, Reba said in her book Reba: My Story that she noticed her relationship with Battles beginning to deteriorate just as quickly as her music career was metastasizing.
According to the book, Charlie began putting his interests before hers. He had little enthusiasm for what she was doing and began to exclude her from doing things with the children.
McEntire recounted one episode in which Battles refused to allow her to feed the cattle with him and the children. She said this moment was painful because that was an activity they had always done together in the past.
To remedy the situation, Reba invited Charlie to work with her band. That way, she hoped, he might glean a better appreciation for her work, she wrote in her book. However, Charlie never got along with any of her bandmates and even began taking money from her without permission.
“Going Out Like That”
Within a few years, McEntire took the pain of her relationship with Battles and turned it into stardom. By 1982, her single “Can’t Even Get the Blues No More,” reached No. 1 on the charts. Two years later, McEntire released her album My Kind of Country and signed a record deal with MCA. To this day, many see that move as one that solidified her position as a country music star.
Unfortunately, Charlie’s anger seemed to grow as fast as Reba’s success. According to a report by Country Fancast, Charlie’s anger is what drew the country music star to divorce him in 1987.
Other reports suggest that Reba chose her career over her marriage. In an interview with People Magazine, she said Charlie had asked her to slow down, but that she decided not to.
Afterward, Reba says she left her Oklahoma ranch behind and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. The rest is history.