Grand Ole Opry Star Jean Shepard Dies
Jean Shepard has died. The Country Music Hall of Famer and regular at the Grand Ole Opry for 60 years died on Sunday morning (September 25) at the age of 82.
Shepard celebrated 60 years of membership at the Grand Ole Opry on Nov. 21, 2015. It ended up being her final Opry appearance as her health began to deteriorate afterward. Last week she entered hospice care. She is the only female to reach 60 years of membership at the Grand Ole Opry.
The Oklahoma-born, California-raised singer scored hits in the 1950s and ’60 with songs like “I Want to Go Where No One Wants Me” and “Beautiful Lies.” “A Dear John Letter,” a duet with Ferlin Husky, made her a star however Shepard couldn’t tour to promote the single. She was a minor at the time, and she told Billboard in 2014 that you had to be 21 years old to leave the state in those days.
“So my daddy signed a release for Ferlin to be my guardian,” Shepard recalls. “He was very good to me, but my daddy would have killed him if he hadn’t been.”
In 1960 Shepard married fellow Opry star Hawkshaw Hawkins, and was pregnant with the couple’s second child when he was killed in a plane crash three years later. She would return to the stage and studio, recording hit songs like “Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar),” “If Teardrops Were Silver,” and Bill Anderson’s “Slippin’ Away. Her last hit song came in 1975 when “The Tip of My Fingers” peaked inside the Top 20.
Shepard would become a Country Music Hall of Fame member in 2011. She is survived by husband Benny Birchfield and sons Don Robin Hawkins, Harold Franklin Hawkins II and Corey Birchfield. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“The Opry family is truly saddened by the news of Jean’s passing,” Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher said. “Although we will miss Jean's presence on the Opry stage, she has left us the wonderful gift of her music which will be remembered for generations to come.”
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