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Jan Howard (1929–2020), Grand Ole Opry star

by Linnea Crowther

Jan Howard was a country music icon who was a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry. Her hit singles include “Evil on Your Mind” and “For Loving You.”

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Died: March 28, 2020 (Who else died on March 28?)

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Details of death: Died in Gallatin, Tennessee at the age of 91.


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Country music fame: Howard got her start as a singer while married to noted songwriter Harlan Howard. He had her sing demo versions of his songs, including a song that would become a hit for Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces.” Howard’s first hit of her own came in 1960 with “The One You Slip Around With.” Her biggest solo success was 1965’s “Evil on Your Mind,” a Top 5 track that was named one of the 500 greatest country music singles in the 2005 book “Heartaches by the Number.” She had a 1967 No. 1 hit as she duetted with Bill Anderson on “For Loving You,” one of four Top 5 duets with him that also included “If It’s All the Same to You” (1969), “Someday We’ll Be Together” (1970), and “Dis-Satisfied” (1971). Her 1968 hit “My Son” was inspired as she wrote letters to her son who was fighting in Vietnam, who was killed in battle less than a year after he was drafted. Howard wrote hit songs for other artists as well, including Kitty Wells’ “It’s All Over but the Crying” and Tammy Wynette’s “Only the Names Have Been Changed,” cowritten with Wynette. Howard joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1971 and continued performing there regularly for the rest of her life.

Notable quote: “It almost seems like an accident that I became a singer, but I’m so thankful for it.”

What people said about her: “Jan Howard was a force of nature in country music, at the Opry, and in life. We were all so lucky so many nights to hear her voice on stage and to catch up with her backstage. We’re all better for having had her in our lives.” —Dan Rogers, vice president of the Grand Ole Opry

“As a female singer in country music, I am indebted to Jan Howard for helping pave the way for all the ‘girl singers.’ Thank you for your friendship and your kindness. We will all miss you dearly.” —Trisha Yearwood

“So one night I’m standing next to Jan Howard backstage at the Ryman, watching Jim Lauderdale sing the Buck Owens hit ‘I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail.’ And Jan, casual as can be, says, “’You know Harlan & Buck wrote that song about me.’ I sure am gonna miss Jan.” —writer Brian Mansfield

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

Related lives:

  • Kitty Wells (1919–2012), country superstar who sang “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”
  • Patsy Cline (1932–1963), legendary musician who sang “Walkin’ After Midnight”
  • Tammy Wynette (1942–1998), “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” singer known as the “First Lady of Country Music”

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