Young Patty Ramey was blessed with a wonderful singing voice. She was so shy though, that when her mother asked Patty to sing, she stood alone in one room, letting only her voice carry her to the next. She was very much her daddy's daughter, and it was through her father, John, that she inherited her love of country music. On Saturday nights, Patty listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio, and she fell in love with the music she heard.
"I'll always hold those days dear to me because they were the best days of my life. Those days that came after, you know, there were some good days, but as I learned to become an adult, I was faced with a lot of tough times because of bad decisions I made. And I think to this day, that maybe there was a part of me going 'Ok, God said it's all right. It's time for you to really learn about life, and for you to learn about hardship just like your mom and dad did.'"
Patty's sister, Dottie, and her brother, Roger, sang together as a duo. When Dottie got married, Roger brought Patty into his band, "The Swinging Rameys," and hoped they could establish a musical career.
In 1969 Roger put Patty onstage for the first time at the Lincoln Jamboree in Louisville, KY. It was only a bunch of foldout chairs in a little auditorium, but Patty's shyness made her as terrified as if she were stepping out onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Her voice wasn't as strong as Dottie's was, but the audience loved to hear this little girl who sang with the emotions of a woman. Patty walked off the stage knowing that she loved it, loved the applause, and loved the five dollars she earned. It was the first money that she'd ever earned. From then on, she and Roger traveled around Kentucky playing at Jamborees.
The Swinging Rameys, 1971
After several years of performances as "The Swinging Rameys," in 1971, Roger drove Patty down to Nashville. Porter Wagoner was as big a star as there was in Nashville, but that didn't stop Roger from going to his office and getting Porter to sit long enough to listen to a few of Patty's songs. One of the songs that Patty sang was one of the many she had written herself called, "Sounds of Loneliness."
Hear the sounds of loneliness
Hear the sounds all around
Since you've gone and left me all alone
I just hear these sounds from now on
And they grow louder and louder and louder
Patty's song was a lament that sounded as if it was echoing though the hills. She, at fourteen years old, could get onstage and mimic the emotions of a singer thrice her age. However, songwriting is a talent that can't be faked, and Patty had poured all of her loneliness and pain into this song. It was a testament to her life. Her father loved that song. Whenever they sat in the kitchen, with Patty strumming the guitar he had given her, she played it for him.
Porter loved it too. He thumped his hand on the desk and said that he was going to help her out. He introduced her to Dolly Parton, who was already a major star. Dolly helped Patty by showing her what a country star should be like, how to wear makeup and what to watch out for in the dangerous Nashville world.
When Patty was sixteen, she started singing with the Wilburn Brothers, their girl singer, Loretta Lynn, had just left them to go on to a stellar career of her own. In 1974, with the Wilburns, Patty first performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. However, instead of letting me tell the story, here are Patty's own words:
I was only fifteen years old when I was on a show in Louisville, KY with the Wilburn Brothers and other various artists.
While I was on stage performing one night, in Louisville Gardens, Roger (Ramey) and I had about 15 minutes and I was singing Mule Skinner Blues. Doyle Wilburn dragged Teddy out of their dressing room to watch me perform. After my performance they were backstage wanting to talk to me. Doyle asked me about myself and I told him I was working some with Porter (Wagoner). He asked me to come to Nashville and bring some of my stuff with me... and I did.
I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to know the Wilburn Brothers had an interest in my talent. They were known for helping others like Loretta Lynn through their booking agency, Wil-Helm Agency,
Patty Ramey with
Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, 1974
and their publishing company, Sure-Fire Music, which later that year I became a part of for the next three years. It was with Sure-Fire that I wrote the song I Did.
I knew a lot about Teddy and Doyle Wilburn from their popular T.V. show, their records and the Grand Ole' Opry. But they had made their mark on the country music industry long before I was born.
After getting to know them, there was so much more added to what I knew, that I'm proud to say I had worked with the Wilburn Brothers. I'm so thankful I was able to know them.
The first of two publicity photos of
"Patty Loveless" (the other is at the bottom of the page).
These are the photos
which Roger Ramey showed Tony Brown
of MCA Records when he was trying
to get Patty a recording contract.
in April 1985
In 1975, Patty noticed the new drummer for the Wilburns, Terry Lovelace. First a friendship, then a romance, developed between Patty and Terry and on her 19th birthday they left Nashville for his home in North Carolina.
We worked a lot of shows, with a lot of bands, around Charlotte. I got with a booking agency, Hit Attractions, and they booked us out in places like Oklahoma and Texas...different states. I was still traveling around, just not working out of Nashville.
For almost the next decade Patty worked with bands that were not always country, although country music remained Patty's true love. In 1985 her marriage to Terry ended and with her brother, Roger, Patty returned to Nashville, this time using the professional name "Patty Loveless," a variation of her married name "Lovelace."
Less than two months after arriving back in Nashville, Patty was signed by MCA records, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Here's a pair of very, very rare 8 x 10 black and white promotional pictures from 1984 and 1985. The same photograph was used in both, but if you look at the wording, you'll see two differences.
The photo on the left uses the name "Patty Loveles" with one 's' and lists Straight Up Management Co. Patty did not use the name "Loveless" until her brother Roger suggested it after her return to Nashville. But she did use the name "Loveles" just before her return. Also, "Straight Up" was the name of her rock and roll band in Carolina.
The other photo on the right uses the name "Patty Loveless" and lists Ramey Management. It is second of the two photos that were used by Roger to promote Patty and secure her a deal at MCA Records when she first returned to Nashville.