Don Chapel

The bloodline of musical talent continued with Don as well as his successful sisters. The stage name "Don Chapel" was chosen due largely to the influence of sister Jean who had already used "Chapel" as a performing name.

The relationship Don enjoyed with his sisters would allow him to rub elbows with some of country music's top record producers and entertainers. During the 1950's all three of his sisters would seen on the Grand Ole Opry doing individual acts and recording for several different major recording labels of the day.

Don began his writing and singing career with Sure Speed Records in 1964. The following year Musicor records signed with Don as a writer. Here, Don would meet and befriend Musicor artist, George Jones. Jones would go on to record several of Don's song compositions such as: "When The Grass Grows Over Me", "From Here To The Door", "Let's Get Together" and "Call Off The Party Tonight."

 


Joe Johnson, President-Owner of Challenge Records, Jean Chapel and Don Chapel at the RCA studio, 1966

 

In January of 1966, Don was working as a motel manager at the Anchor Motel in Nashville when he met Virginia Wynette Pugh-Byrd. "She was in Nashville to find her fame and fortune," says Don. The two would quickly become good friends since both were pursuing the same goals in the music business. Don had several contacts in the music field from his own work at Musicor and from the Opry where his sisters had enjoyed much notoriety.

By late February of 1966, Don and Tammy were seen as a "couple" by most onlookers in Nashville; though officially, Tammy would not get her divorce from Euple Byrd for several more months.

Don's introduction of Tammy to his family would be a notable point in music history. Here you have the Gospel Great Martha Carson, Rock-a-Billy Great Jean Chapel, and Country Music Great Tammy Wynette coming together and soon would become family.

In September of 1966, Don arranged for Tammy to get a trailer in the same court as his sister Jean in Nashville. Tammy and Jean would become best of friends. Tammy would "demo" three songs that Jean had written during this time. Since Jean had already enjoyed a great deal of success in the music business, Tammy was very interested in learning all she could from this writer and performer.

During this time, Don would write what would become his biggest biggest hit in the U.S.,

"When The Grass Grows Over Me." The song would be recorded by friend and Musicor artist George Jones that same year; however, it would not be released until 1969.

It was while Don was delivering this song to Jones at a motel that Tammy Wynette first met George. This would set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to George and Tammy becoming a "couple."

In 1969 the Country Music Association would nominate "When The Grass Grows Over Me" as one of the top five songs in the country. Soon after its release, the song was recorded by some 30 different Nashville artist. The more notable artists to cut this song: Conway Twitty, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, Jack Greene, Liz Anderson, Johnny Bush, and Kitty Wells, Johnny Paycheck and George Jones.

On April 7, 1967 Don and Tammy were wed in Ringgold, Georgia. (It is ironic to note that Tammy would return to Ringgold a few years later with George Jones and get married in that same town.)

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Don's song writing continued to blossom as well as Wynette's legendary career. Tammy would record four of Don's songs and turn them into hits for Epic Records. "JOEY", "All Night Long", "My Heart Is Soakin Wet" and a duet with David Houston "Together We Stand Divided We Fall."

By July of 1967, Don and Tammy were performing almost every night of the week across the country. Daughter Donna would join Tammy in their new band as a back up vocalist. Donna would routinely open the show for Wynette and then father-daughter duo would sing backup for Tammy once she came one stage. During this time they did a number of package shows with the likes of Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride and George Jones among others.

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