Harper Valley PTA – Jennie C. Riley – 1968

Harper Valley PTA - Jennie C. RileyOkay, not quite the seventies, but I heard this catchy little song the other day and couldn’t resist… Jennie C. Riley’s 1968 #1 hit, Harper Valley PTA.

jennie c. riley fax

  • Still performing today, as a 71 year old, Jennie C. Riley (born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson), had her biggest hit with her debut single, Harper Valley PTA.
  • Since the late 70s, she has focused on gospel music.
  • Initially struggling to make any impact on the country music scene, a demo tape of Jennie C. found its way to the desk of record producer Shelby Singleton. He was endeavouring to establish his own own label, Plantation Records, and loved her sound.  Introducing Jennie C. to a Tom T. Hall demo-song (Harper Valley PTA), he produced one of the best-known country music songs of all time.
  • Jennie C. is credited with starting something of a revolution in the world of country music. She quickly became known as much for her sex appeal and beauty as for her music.  While most her contemporaries were keeping a wholesome image by wearing gingham dresses, Jennie C. adopted the typical fashion on the late-1960s by wearing a miniskirt and go-go boots on stage.  Jennie C. later announced that she felt uncomfortable with this sexy persona and reverted to more modest attire.

harper valley pta fax

  • Written by Tom T. Hall, Harper Valley PTA was a 1968 #1 US and Canadian hit for US country singer Jeannie C. Riley.
  • Harper Valley PTA sold a staggering six million copies as a single.
  • Harper Valley PTA saw Jennie C. become the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go unrepeated until Dolly Parton‘s 1981 hit, 9 to 5.
  • It is said of Harper Valley PTA:

The country singer Margie Singleton asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to Bobby Gentry’s Grammy-winning hit “Ode To Billie Joe”, which she had covered the previous year, and which Gentry wrote and recorded in 1967. The melody is essentially the same as that of the Gentry song, but Gentry seemingly was never informed or given any credit by Hall. After driving past a school called Harpeth Valley Elementary School in Bellevue, Tennessee, Hall noted the name and wrote “Harper Valley P.T.A.” about a fictional confrontation between a young widow Stella Johnson and a local PTA group who objected to her manner of dress, social drinking, and friendliness with town’s men folk. Jeannie C. Riley, who was working as a secretary in Nashville for Jerry Chesnut, got to hear the song and recorded it herself and it became a massive hit for her.

  • The song was later the inspiration for a 1978 motion picture and a short-lived 1981 television series, both starring Barbara Eden, playing the heroine of the song, Mrs. Johnson—who now had a first name, Stella.
  • Several other songs in the Harper Valley PTA album also told stories of some of the other characters from the song, including Mayor Harper, Widow Jones, and Shirley Thompson.
  • The classic Harper Valley PTA album cover shows a mini-dress-clad Riley—portraying Mrs. Johnson with PTA note in hand—standing beside a girl, who is portraying the teenage daughter of Mrs. Johnson.
  • Jeannie C.’s recording of Harper Valley PTA won a Grammy for the Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the pop field.
  • Harper Valley PTA lyrics.

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 -video

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 – video from movie

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