She is known for her major 1968 hit Harper Valley PTA that made her the first ever female singer to have a song reach #1 on both the country and pop music charts. The record quickly became one of the most legendary country music songs of all time. Written by Tom T. Hall, the song was released on the Plantation Records label. At the time, the lyrics were seen as risqué with “attitude” and the attractive Riley was marketed as a sex symbol dressed in an evocative tight mini-skirt and leather Go-Go boots.
She became a much talked about overnight sensation, and the song earned her the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the Country Music Association Single of the Year award. The song itself was a phenomenon that led to a 1978 motion picture and the 1981 Harper Valley PTA television show. Riley made country music history in 1969 as the first female vocalist to have her own major network variety special.
During the late 1960s, and well into the 1970s, Riley ranked among the most popular female vocalists in the country music industry with five Grammy nominations and four Country Music Association nominations. Her other major country hits include “The Girl Most Likely” (1968), “Country Girl” (1970), “Oh, Singer” (1971), “Good Enough to Be Your Wife” (1971), and “Give Myself a Party” (1972). Riley recorded for MGM Records from 1972 to 1975 and later for Warner Bros. Records and MCA Records.
Her beauty and popularity brought a number of offers from Hollywood and she appeared with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Bette Davis, Tom Jones, Ed Sullivan, and others on various television programs.
In the 1970s, she became a born again Christian and began recording gospel music with some frequency. However, her life has been plagued by bouts of severe depression that at one point left her bed-ridden for six years.
Jeannie C. Riley wrote an autobiography, From Harper Valley to the Mountain Top that was published in 1980 and brought her much renewed attention. She contined to tour and record through to the 1990s.
Edited by szarka on 5 Dec 2009, 00:46
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