Not only can Itawamba claim birth-rights to Jimmie Lunceford, world-renown jazz musician who was known as the King of Swing, but also to the father of the King of Rock and Roll, Vernon Presley. On Thursday afternoon, homage was paid to another Itawamba native.... the First Lady of Country Music, Tammy Wynette.
A Country Music Trail marker honoring the music legend was unveiled at Tremont Town Park amid a large crowd of friends, kinfolk and other fans. Tammy was born Virginia Wynette Pugh, just down the road from where the marker was erected, and she attended Tremont High School, adjacent to Tremont Town Park. Several of Tammy's (or Wynette, as they knew her by, pronounced win-NET) childhood friends and relatives spoke of their memories growing up in Itawamba County with Tammy, but the special treat (for me) of the event was the appearance of Earl "Peanut" Montgomery, famed songwriter, and his wife Charlene, who toured and sang backup for Tammy. Montgomery has to be one of the top country music songwriters. Perhaps you remember George (Jones, of course) and Tammy's hit, "We're Gonna Hold On"? What about "What's Your Momma's Name, Child" by Tanya Tucker? Earl Montgomery's songs have been recorded by all the greats: Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Hank Williams Jr., and many others. For a complete list, check out this website: http://www.sweetwaterrecords1.com/songs.htm. Earl and Charlene shared stories about Tammy (and George), recalled visits to the Tremont area with Tammy, and entertained the crowd with a couple of songs. Everyone really appreciated their taking time to drive to Tremont for this special event; you could tell how much they loved the First Lady of Country Music.