Mandrell, Barbara (Ann)

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Mandrell, Barbara (Ann)

Mandrell, Barbara (Ann), multitalented country queen of the mid-1970s and early 1980s; b. Houston, Tex., Dec. 25, 1948. Born in Tex. but raised in southern Calif., Mandrell began playing with the family band at a young age, and was adept at a number of instruments, particularly the pedal steel guitar. When Mandrell was 11, she was already playing the instrument in Las Vegas shows, and two years later she toured with Johnny Cash performing for military shows in Vietnam and Korea.

After a minor hit as a vocalist on “Queen for a Day” released by the small Mosrite label, Mandrell and family moved to Nashville, where she was signed by Columbia in 1969. Her first success was covering R&B standards, beginning with “Fve Been Loving You Too Long” originally recorded by Otis Redding, followed with such chestnuts as “Do Right Woman—Do Right Man” through 1973’s “Midnight Oil.” In mid-decade, she signed with ABC /Dot, and her first period of major success occurred, including 1977’s “Married (But Not to Each Other)” and the 1978 #1 cleverly titled country hit, “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed.”

Mandrell continued to be a major star in the early 1980s, thanks to increased exposure hosting a network variety program with her sisters, Irlene and Louise. A combination of Hee Haw and the Bell Telephone Hour, the show offered the girl’s sweet harmonies and musical talents, as well as decidedly low-tech comedy routines. Mandrell continued to churn out solo hits, including 1981’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” 1983’s “One of a Kind Pair of Fools,” and 1984’s duet with Lee Greenwood, “To Me.”

Barbara’s life and career were dealt a severe blow in 1984 when she was involved in a head-on collision, leading to a long period of hospitalization and some doubts about her ability to recover. She came back a year later with the hit “Angels in Your Arms,” although her popularity on the country charts was already eroding due to the influx of new-country stars.

Through the mid-1990s, Mandrell continued to draw in big audiences at Vegas (or Branson, Mo.) like few other stars, but her chart-topping days were over, perhaps because her older style of country-meets-pop crooning seems somewhat outdated in today’s return-to-roots renascence. In 1997, she gave a well- publicized farewell show, saying she wished to focus on her acting career.


Treat Him Right (1971); David Houston: A Perfect Match (1972). The Midnight Oil (1973); The Best of Barbara Mandrell and David Houston (1974); This Time I Almost Made It (1974); The Best of Barbara Mandrell (1977); This Is Barbara Mandrell (1976); Midnight Angel (1976); Lovers, Friends & Strangers (1977); Love’s Ups and Downs (1978); Moods (1978); The Best of Barbara Mandrell (1979); Just for the Record (1979); Love Is Fair (1980); Looking Back (1981); Barbara Mandrell Live (1981); In Black and White (1982); He Set My Life to Music (1982); Spun Gold (1983); Clean Cut (1984); Lee Greenwood: Meant for Each Other (1984). Christmas at Our House (1984); Barbara Mandrell’s Greatest Hits (1985); Get to the Heart (1985); Moments (1986); Sure Feels Good (1987); I’ll Be Your Jukebox Tonight (1988); Precious Memories (1989); Morning Sun (1990); No Nonsense (1990); The Key’s in the Mailbox (1991); The Best of Barbara Mandrell (1992); The Barbara Mandrell Collection (1995); Acoustic Attitude (1995); It Works for Me (1995).

—Hank Bordowitz