It is unbelievably impressive that country music legend Tanya Tucker signed her first record deal at the age of 13!
You read that right, at the young age of 13, Tanya signed with the major music label Columbia Records. Her unique sound, raspy vocals, and outgoing stage presence were so impressive that she stood out as an up-and-coming star.
To celebrate the 49th anniversary of the teenager signing with Columbia Records, she posted a photo of Billy Sherrill, one of the top producers in Nashville, herself, and her first manager Dolores Fuller.
The Photo Of The Day Tanya Tucker’s Life Changed
In the photo they’re all facing the camera while Fuller smiles, Sherrill remains stone-faced, and Tanya gives an awkward smile while holding a pen, hovering over the contract. This was a whole new experience for her, and an unbelievable one for that matter. She was launched into fame quicker than most can blink an eye. Tucker would continue having new experiences over and over and over again as her star rose in the music world.
Tanya Tucker’s Instagram post fondly reminisces on this new and magical experience that would change her life.
“Wow… I signed my first record deal when I was 13 years old… 49 yrs ago today. Where has the time gone!!!??? I remember this moment very well,” Tanya writes.
“Billy ‘The Great’ Sherrill was my first producer and Dolores Fuller was my first manager,” she continues. “She is the one who got Billy off the craps table at the Riviera in Las Vegas long enough to listen to my demo tapes, and ultimately got me my first record deal with Columbia Records and Billy at the production helm!”
However, she does comment on what she wishes this photo of such a special moment also included her father, who she says “was the reason for all of this.”
“What’s WRONG with this picture is that my Dad isn’t in it. He was the reason for all of this!! And the other thing I think about is how much I miss Billy,” says Tucker.
Tanya’s Dad Reminisces on His Daughter’s Rise to Fame
“Tanya was tryin’ to sing as a child,” says Tanya’s father, Bo Tucker in a 1974 interview with Rolling Stone. “I never even thought about her singing till one day she walked up and said, ‘Daddy, you wanta hear me sing a song?’ I said, ‘Sweetheart, you couldn’t sing your way out of a paper sack.’ She backed up about 10 foot and showed me she could sing. She let me have it.”
Tucker also adds in her post that she misses the producer who changed her life and recorded her first big single “Delta Dawn.” The Top 10 hit drew attention from all types of individuals in the country music genre as they loved her deep voice and one-of-a-kind style of singing and performing.
Bo met a woman who had written songs for Elvis and other greats. She and Tanya reached out to Sherrill.
“They pulled him away from one of them dice tables at the Riviera in Vegas and got him to listen. He called us into Nashville and he cut that ‘Delta Dawn.’ Her and Billy are just like bread ‘n butter in the studio. He found the song for her and at first she didn’t like it. Then she got to workin’ on it up in the room and she said, ‘Daddy, that’s a monster.’ Of course, it became a Number One hit,” Bo recalls.
Tucker Never Believed in Falling Into a Certain Genre
Many believe the music legend is one of the rare female artists who has fallen into the category of the “country outlaw” genre. A genre that would place her on the same list as the original country outlaw greats including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, and others.
However, when Tucker was interviewed by Rolling Stone at the age of 15, she explained how she didn’t want to be put into a certain genre. Her hope was to appeal to everyone with her music by adding in some pop sounds to her country tunes.
“When I started, I was kinda dead country-country was the only way,” she says. “But pop is good. Kids sometimes have a bad outlook on country music because they’ll hear a record that even I don’t like. Most of my songs–I have rock fans and one of ’em told me about ‘Horseshoe Bend.’ He said, ‘The only thing country about that song is the words.’
“They like it because it suits the country people and the rock people. I think that’s good because I want to suit everybody,” Tanya continues. “I don’t wanna be labeled just a country singer. Right now I guess I am but I’d rather, you know, be labeled like Elvis.”
Tanya Tucker had high expectations, and she reached them.
Her Rise to Fame and Reaching Stardom
Her debut single “Delta Dawn” became her first Top 10 hit, and Tanya Tucker would go on to find massive success as one of the country genre’s most famous artists from the 70s into the 90s.
In the first two years with Sherrill, Tucker released six back-to-back Top 10 hits. She hit No. 1 with “Blood Red and Goin’ Down, “What’s Your Mama’s Name,” “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” and “Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone).”
Tanya later signed a $1.4 million contract with MCA records at the age of 16, and she continuously pushed out hit after hit reaching many Top 10 and No. 1 positions on the Country charts.
What’s in the Future For Tanya Tucker?
Now, she is teaming up with country artists Brandi Carlisle and Shooter Jennings to make a new record. In 2019, she released single entitled “While I’m Livin’.” The song is the title track for her album.
Even now, being the legend that she is, Tanya hasn’t changed her 15-year-old self’s perspective on how she wants to be viewed.
“All I want, all I’ve ever wanted, was just an opportunity to be heard,” Tucker said. “Not to close me off and not to categorize me — just to let everybody hear me, man. They don’t have to like me, but they might, you know? I’m greedy. I just want an opportunity to gather up some more fans. The more I have, the better I like it.”
Tanya Tucker has had an amazingly successful career. Signing with Columbia Records at 13 was just the start. Thankfully, her deep, emotional lyrics and raspy, deep voice are now returning with her new record “While I’m Livin’.”
She ended her Instagram post by expressing heartfelt gratitude for her fans who’ve always supported her.
“I’ve been making music ever since thanks to the wonderful fans who’ve supported me since day one,” writes Tanya.