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Country music stars to sing at memorial for Wynette

April 9, 1998
Web posted at: 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409 GMT)

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) -- As some of country music's biggest stars prepared to bid farewell to Tammy Wynette at a memorial service Thursday evening, Nashville's Fourth Street held a memorial of its own Wednesday for the "first lady of country music."

Raindrops danced on the sidewalk to the tunes pouring from open doors at the Music City Lounge, where the music's nostalgic tone seemed appropriate for a community that has lost an old friend. Wynette died at her home Monday of a blood clot in her lungs. She was 55.

Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Lorrie Morgan, Travis Tritt and the Oak Ridge Boys planned to sing at the service starting about 5:30 p.m. EDT at Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry, where Wynette often performed. A private burial was to follow.

As memorial preparations were being made, country music performers and fans in Nashville were remembering Wynette's influence on the genre. Not only could her presence nearly be felt, in at least one bar you could almost hear her, when an aspiring country singer couldn't resist belting out Wynette's classic "Stand By Your Man" for a camera crew.

"She had a style all her own," singer Holly Hefner said. "That's one reason I was always afraid before to perform her songs."

And it wasn't hard to find people who knew the country superstar, or at least felt close to her.

"I played bass for Johnny Paycheck, and we had the same booking agent," said one onlooker. "We worked a lot of shows together, but she was always nice to the newest member of the band."

"She was the most wonderful -- I'll never forget her," another bar patron said.

Correspondent Mark Scheerer contributed to this report.

 
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