Abusive Childhood and Lawnmower Mishap:
Connie Smith's father was a farm worker, was an abusive alcoholic. Connie escaped by turning on the radio and listening to the singers she idolized, including Kitty Wells and Jean Shepard.
Her mother divorced her father when Connie was seven, and remarried.
Music continued to provide an escape for the singer when she was seriously injured by a lawnmower. She was given a guitar to play in her hospital while she recovered from her wounds.
Becoming a Hitmaker:
Connie Smith earned her first #1 hit with the love song "Once a Day." It was written by Bill Anderson and released in 1964. She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, the same show she used to listen to.
Smith had a stream of #1 hits until 1968. She divorced her husband Jerry Smith and felt increasingly put upon by her showbiz lifestyle and the stresses of touring.
Smith had begun to slow down the pace of her life in the late '60s. By the '70s, she had begun to play more music. In 1973 she released "God Is Abundant" on Columbia; she joined the label because they agreed to let her release a gospel album a year. Still, her secular material continued to be more popular with the public than her religious tunes.
Relationship with Marty Stuart:
The 17-year age gap between Connie Smith and Marty Stuart didn't stop the pair from falling in love. The two fell for each other while collaborating on Smith's touted comeback album Connie Smith, in 1998. It was her first new album in 20 years.
But Stuart says he first crossed paths with Smith long before that -- when he was just 12 years old.
"She came to the Indian reservation in my hometown to work at a fair," Stuart told Country Weekly in 1997. "She looked great then and she looks great now."
The pair married at the reservation in 1997.
"It was a very private ceremony," Marty said in the interview. "Connie and I wanted it that way. We wanted to hide from the press for a couple of days and enjoy some peace and quiet. We just did it real fast and then we were back in Nashville."
A Dry Spell:
Between 1978 and 1992 there were no new Connie Smith albums. The singer spent much of the '80s performing on the Grand Ole Opry.
In the 2000s, Smith released Love Never Fails and Long Line of Heartaches.
In 2012, the Country Music Hall of Fame announced they were inducting Connie Smith. The same year Bear Family released the career retrospective Just For What I Am.
Connie Smith's Top 10 Country Hits:
- "Once a Day" (1964) - #1
- "Then and Only Then" (1965) -#4
- "I Can't Remember" (1965) - #4
- "If I Talk to Him" (1965) - #4
- "Nobody But a Fool (Would Love You)" (1966) - #4
- "Ain't Had No Lovin'" (1966) - #2
- "The Hurtin's All Over" (1966) - #3
- "I'll Come Runnin'" (1967) - #10
- "Cincinnati, Ohio" (1967) - #4
- "Burning a Hole in My Mind" (1967) - #5
- "Baby's Back Again" (1967) - #7
- "Run Away Little Tears" (1968) - #10
- "You and Your Sweet Love" (1969) - #6
- "I Never Once Stopped Loving You" (1970) - #5
- "Just One Time" (1971) - #2
- "Just for What I Am" (1972) - #5
- "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)" (1972) - #7
- "Love Is the Look You're Looking for" (1972) - #8
- "Ain't Love a Good Thing" (1973) - #10
- "(Till) I Kissed You" (1976) - #10