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."
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
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
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
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.)
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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