Singer Margo Smith, noted for a string of country hits
in the 1970's and 1980's, died Tuesday, Jan. 23, at age 84.
Born Bette Lou Miller, the singer was an Ohio kindergarten teacher who
came to Nashville in 1975 to record her self-penned “There I Said It” and “Paper Lovin.’” Signed by Warner Music,
she hit the charts with three self-written hits in 1976-77, “Love’s Explosion,”
“Take My Breath Away” and “My Weakness.”
Her biggest hits occurred via her chart-topping revivals of the pop
oldies “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You,”
“It Only Hurts for a Little While” and “Little Things Mean a Lot” in 1978.
Margo Smith underwent several career transformations. The first of these occurred
in 1979-80 when she shed her “house wife-y” image in favor of a sexy persona in
spandex, plunging necklines, satin costumes and a newly blonde coiffure. This
coincided with such sultry hits as “Still a Woman”
and “He Gives Me Diamonds, You Give Me Chills.”
She divorced her husband and married businessman Richard Cammeron in 1982. He took
over her career management. During the next few years, she returned to her homey
image and continued to make the charts throughout the 1980s with solo singles
as well as duets with Rex Allen Jr. such as 1980’s “Cup of Tea.” Beginning in
1982, her country releases were on such independent labels as AMI, Moon Shine,
Bermuda Dunes and Payback.
Smith also began to emphasize her show-stopping yodel ability. Her next image
was as “The Tennessee Yodeler,” and she began to market TV albums such as 1983’s
The Best of the Tennessee Yodeler. She continued in this vein into the 1990s.
In the mid-1990s, Margo’s musical career shifted again. This time it was to
Christian country music. She and her daughter, Holly, became a duo billed as
“Margo Smith and Holly.” They recorded for Homeland Records and had a number
of Christian-country hits. In 1994, they were named Vocal Duo of the Year by
the Christian Country Music Association.
In later years, Smith continued performing and marketed records that taught
singers how to yodel. Among the artists she mentored was Taylor Ware, who
successfully competed on TV’s America’s Got Talent. She moved to Florida
and began recording for Lamon Records in 2005. During her career, Margo Smith
released 18 albums and charted with 27 country singles.
She died in Franklin, Tennessee due to complications from a stroke she suffered
two days earlier.
Margo Smith is survived by her husband Richard Cammeron; son Jeffery Smith;
daughters Holly Watson, Tonja Taskey Elder and Lisa Foster; brother Jimmy Miller;
sisters Kathy Kelly and Linda Crofut as well as eight grandchildren.
Arrangements are being handled by Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home. In lieu
of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
or Music City Christian Fellowship.
A celebration of life for Margo Smith will be held Friday (Feb. 2) at 2:00 p.m. at
Harpeth Christian Church (1101 Gardner Drive, Franklin, TN 37064).
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