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Interview With Tanya Tucker

Aired March 23, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive. Country music superstar Tanya Tucker tells all about a life straight out of the tabloids, wild romances with Glen Campbell and others, battles with addiction to cocaine and more. We'll cover it all and we'll take your calls. Tanya Tucker for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: She has had nine Billboard number one country single hits, 30 other top ten songs. She was Grammy nominated at age 15. She's in town performing at the House of Blues here in Los Angeles. She's the Texas Tornado, Tanya Tucker. What a life, is well known for what happened off the screen as well as on. You started as a kid, right?

TANYA TUCKER, COUNTRY SINGER: Yes, I was 13 when I had my first record.

KING: How did you get a break at 13?

TUCKER: My dad, ever since I can remember, I've always sung from I guess probably 6 or 7 years old and along about 9 years old he recognized the talent, and he saw talent in me anyway and he asked me one night over dinner, just like you and I are sitting here, do you want to be a normal kid or do you want to be a country singer? Of course at that time, wasn't much choice than that. I said I want to be a country singer, Dad. And so he says that's the day he went to work for me and he's still working for me.

KING: Where in Texas was this?

TUCKER: I was born in Texas but my dad found work in Arizona drilling water wells. So I was very young when I left Texas.

KING: What was your first hit?

TUCKER: "Delta Dawn."

KING: How old were you?

TUCKER: I had just turned 13.

KING: You were 13?

TUCKER: Yes. KING: The whole world was singing that song.

TUCKER: It's quite a blessing to be that lucky and get a song like that. A lot of things were the reasons because of that.

KING: Let's hopscotch all over the board but first let's start with the relationship with Glen Campbell. You met him when you were 15?

TUCKER: The first time I met Glen was at the CMA Awards the night he was having such trouble with Mac Davis, and that was Tammy Winette (ph), I think Tammy and I presented (UNINTELLIGIBLE) male vocalist of the year award that night. I know that, because I saw a picture on the wall at my house and I had forgotten about it. I was 15, and then the next time I met him was in Las Vegas, I was doing a TV show.

KING: No romance happened at 15, right?

TUCKER: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I just was always a big fan of his. However, my sister was the one that did all his songs. She was really, she sang more of his music than I did. I was more Loretta Lin (ph) drinking, cheating songs.

KING: So when did the relationship start? In Vegas? And you were 21.

TUCKER: And he was separated at the time.

KING: How long did it last?

TUCKER: About three or four years.

KING: Why was it so rocking a story? It was in all the tabloids. What made it so big news, that you were two superstars?

TUCKER: It amazes me that people still talk about it to this day. I'm sure what it was called yesterday's news for me and Glen both, I'm sure. We were both sick of hearing about it and I'm sure he's happily married now, but I don't know what made us so attractive to the press. I think probably -- he was twice my age. That probably was one thing. It didn't affect us, though. We didn't pay much attention to that. We were both in the industry and I was young. I was a youngster. There was a lot of things I probably wouldn't do now, you know, if I had it to do over again and I'm sure he feels the same way.

KING: He wrote in his autobiography ten years ago he started dating you to escape cocaine which he described as comparable to jumping in a lake to avoid getting wet.

TUCKER: No, I had never really seen that drug until I started dating Glen Campbell. He got that backwards.

KING: Did you do it together?

TUCKER: You know, we didn't -- not very much. It was more like a hiding thing. We didn't indulge together.

KING: Glen was on our show a couple years ago. He talked about the relationship. Let's watch what Glen Campbell had to say about Tanya Tucker.


KING: Do you look back on the Tanya Tucker episode as a bad one?


KING: You were married, older, and suddenly you fall madly in love with this woman. As you look back...

CAMPBELL: I wouldn't say madly in love. It was...

KING: Madly then.

CAMPBELL: She was there at the time when Sarah (ph) and I broke up. That was -- just one of those things that happened, but we were definitely not made for each other. Tanya is, you know, we were -- she's a great singer. She's a great presence on stage. But it just didn't work.


KING: That was two years ago, by the way, with Glen Campbell. Comment on what he said?

TUCKER: I think he probably -- he is happily married now. The things I have said sometimes, I've said some things I really probably didn't mean as much...

KING: About him?

TUCKER: Or just about anything, because trying to spare the person that I'm seeing or involved with at that time because it seems to be a lot of -- I mean, he's probably going to get hell if he went home, if he said the truth and went home. Because you know what I'm saying...

KING: You're saying the truth was you had a pretty good...

TUCKER: The truth was he's crazy about me.

KING: It's in the past.

TUCKER: I couldn't leave the room without stepping on his toes. If I stepped back, I'd step on one of his toes. He's a very talented person. He said we weren't made for each other. Well, you know, we're all positive of that now but I think probably we would both have done things a little differently than we...

KING: Is it true the night you broke up you had a physical fight, police had to come?

TUCKER: We did that a lot.

KING: Throw things at each other?

TUCKER: Well, I don't throw things. This particular night I brought one from the floor so to speak, and he ended up getting a cut over his head, and the police came, took him to another side of the hotel, and that was like September 6, 1981.

KING: Do you bring this to your music, the things that happen to you comes into your singing?

TUCKER: Absolutely. For all my life, from the beginning of my career, you know, I was a kid so it was not too much I didn't know about as far as the ways of the world and the birds and the bees and that kind of thing, but my dad had been such a teacher, a coach if you will to make -- he said, you are a kid, first of all, and a woman, second of all. You got to be convincing. People aren't going to believe you've been through the things you're singing about. You got to be extra good. And he would make me sing it over and over and over again and I'd read to him and he'd make me read it over and put feeling in it, he'd say like Hank Williams put in there, you know, he said put it in there like Woodbury (ph) soap won't wash it off. And so I learned that from an early age to put everything I had into it. Then, pretty soon, life starts happening to me.

KING: What did it?

TUCKER: Just experiences. It's so funny because I listen to songs that I recorded that I didn't really know anything about at the time. Later on I'm starting to feel the songs. Sing them first, feel them later.

KING: In retrospect, did you have too much too soon?

TUCKER: No. I was never a spoiled kid...

KING: Never went to your head that you were a...

TUCKER: No, no. It's funny because me and Lorna Lepp (ph) were having that conversation one night when I was in New York. Judy Collins, and -- no, Judy Garland. We were standing out there looking at the New York sky line and she said, "how do you do it? When I was your age, she said, I was like the Beatles were in my living room, everything was at our feet. Anything I wanted, I was a drug addict at the time, I was about 13 or 14, and on heroin and that such," and I said, you know what? I think the only thing I can contribute to is my parents. I had great parents, that always told me the ground was under my feet and that I wasn't anybody better.

KING: But that doesn't stop you from having problems.

TUCKER: Everybody has problems.

KING: You were grounded?

TUCKER: Absolutely, yes. KING: You were well grounded?

TUCKER: Yes, that way, both ways. But I have really -- you know, I think what happens is when have you a great foundation, if you get off of it sometimes, you know, get off the path, I think that is what brings you back.

KING: As you look back, were you glad the Glen Campbell thing happened?

TUCKER: Yes, I don't regret that at all. I regret that we were both not mature enough at the time to handle it. I think we had a great love.

KING: What did his daughter say to you after the relationship ended?

TUCKER: She told me, I don't know why she did tell me, but it was interesting. I guess she wanted me to know but she said she asked her dad who was the love of his life and coming from her, she said he said it was me.

KING: We'll get a break and come back. We'll talk with Tanya Tucker about trials and travails, her career, she's appearing here in Los Angeles tonight, in fact, she's the singer of nine Billboard country singles. And even though it's 9:00 in the East, it's in the 6:00 hour here so we're able to take calls for Ms. Tucker who will be on stage in a couple of hours. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know I've seen you on Merv Griffin and a couple of other shows saying we're not getting married now. Everybody wants to know, is it or is it not?

CAMPBELL: Oh, yes.

TUCKER: Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is great. Oh, yes, oh, no, OK.

CAMPBELL: To cleared that up once and for all, we haven't set a date. Maybe a year, maybe two years, I don't know. I'm just playing it be ear more or less.


CAMPBELL: I may not want to put up with her that long, you know.







KING: That was the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker singing the national anthem, that was the convention that would nominate Ronald Reagan to his first term as president of the United States. Program note, tomorrow night Richard Clarke will be our special guest, the former top security official, written that book, went on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, the hearings are taking place, the Presidential Commission looking into 9/11. Mr. Clarke testifies tomorrow, you'll see it on CNN all day, starting at 2:00 Eastern, he'll be on this show tomorrow night. Richard Clarke tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Our guest is Tanya Tucker.

How did the drug and alcohol problems begin?

TUCKER: I think it's just a matter of in that time, that was the '80s, you know. That was just what everybody was doing.

KING: Does anyone know what why they start -- Richard Dreyfuss told me once, you don't know why.

TUCKER: I started because I wanted to lose some weight.

KING: You had a reason?

TUCKER: Yes, that's it. I felt I was a few pounds overweight and I wanted to go for the surefire quick way to do it.

KING: Were you addicted to both drugs and alcohol.

TUCKER: I don't think I was really addicted. I used it as a party tool. What had happened it just kind of got out of hand. Once you start doing that, it's nature of that drug is it, you know, grabs you.

KING: How did it affect performance?

TUCKER: I couldn't perform. I could not -- I wouldn't -- very rarely have I ever performed on it because I just can't. You know, I'm, I got to be out there pretty natural. I'm close to as natural as I can be, because -- your performing -- when I'm performing it's a real thing. And you can't fake it too much.

KING: You went to the Betty Ford Center.


KING: And are a critic of that.

TUCKER: Makes my year.

KING: You didn't like it?

TUCKER: No, I didn't like it that much.

KING: Because?

Well, you know, certain -- for one reason, I think that the intervention process is a good process for most people, but for me, it just looked like a bunch of my friends trying to get back at me and sit around taking jabs at me, you know, when I couldn't defend myself. And most of the people are not still around today anyway, so they weren't really my true friends.

KING: But what happened at the Center?

TUCKER: The Center I think it works great for some people. I learned a lot. I really did. I learned quite a bit, and things I did not know medically, and I had a great, great instructor or counselor.

KING: What then didn't you like?

TUCKER: I just didn't like -- I wouldn't have made it if I had any other counselor but him. He was the perfect one.

KING: But you went through the full program?

TUCKER: They kept me overtime actually because they don't keep even the hard...

KING: I don't understand if it worked for you...

TUCKER: It -- well, I'm just saying that I don't think that I needed, that my life would have had to have had that experience.

KING: Intervention occurred, friends got you to go. They confronted you and you go right away, right?

TUCKER: Right than. Right than. I didn't do that for my friends, I did it for my dad. My dad was concerned about me, and so I didn't do it for me, I didn't do it for...

KING: So, you didn't like the way you went?

You didn't like the circumstances, but the place was...

TUCKER: There was nothing about it to like.

KING: ... place was all right? The place was all right.

TUCKER: It's a beautiful place. You know, I think they're still in the learning process, you know, it's a very complicated issue, this addiction process.

KING: Did you go back?

TUCKER: No. Did I go back? oh, no.

KING: Did you go back on drugs?

TUCKER: I would never want to go back that-to-that place again. So, I say off of them.

KING: You've been off since?

TUCKER: Yes, and I don't drink. I think if I smelled a crown of Coke (ph), which is what I used to drink, I'd probably get drunk from just smelling it.

KING: So, was it Betty Ford that worked for you?

I mean, in a sense you didn't like it.

TUCKER: It was a portion of it. I'm not going to give them all the credit. There's a lot of other things.

KING: What else?

TUCKER: My family. You know, my friends. Just basicly looking at myself saying, you know, do I want to go up or go down?

And plus the fact, the biggest one of all is that my children. I have a 14-year-old, 12-year-old and 4-year-old.

KING: That's with Ben Reed?

TUCKER: Ben Reed, we have two children together. And Preston Bo Grayson (ph) and than and Layla is Jerry Laseter and my baby girl.

KING: You've broken up with him though?


KING: But the baby, how old is she?

TUCKER: She's four. She's a little doll. She's supposed to be with me right now but he didn't make it to the airport in time with her and I'm a little ticked off at him right now, but...

KING: Are you friendly with him?

TUCKER: Yes, I want to be. I always want to be. He has a tough time sometimes with it, but I always want to be his friend and be able to, him to call me and me to call him.

KING: How did all this affect you as a parent.

TUCKER: All of what?

KING: Drugs...

TUCKER: You know, as any parent will say, you know, life happens. Do you the best you can. You work -- it's a day at a time process. I have an unending desire to be better and make myself a better person, better mother. KING: Better singer?

TUCKER: That's probably the last on my list, you know what I mean? I would much rather be a better mother or better human being than I would be a singer. Fortunately for me singing makes me a living.

KING: How much of an interruption in a career did this cause, though?

TUCKER: Quite a bit. It cost a lot of money. It cost a lot.

KING: Sure did. You don't work.

TUCKER: You don't work when you in there. It cost I'd say probably $200,000 cash, just the real cash, then it costs you about $5 million in all...


KING: Music that doesn't...

TUCKER: Sponsorships, things like that.

KING: We'll be back with Tanya Tucker. We'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.






KING: Tanya Tucker, what a story. Why did you name your daughter Presley?

TUCKER: I had her named a long time ago, way before she was...

KING: After Elvis?

TUCKER: Yeah, of course. I mean, I loved the name, and I told her that the day -- wow, your name is Presley Tucker. I said, I love that name. Just has a nice ring to it, you know?

KING: If it were a boy, would have been Presley, too?

TUCKER: I think so.

KING: Did you want...

TUCKER: I think it would have -- but it wasn't going to be no boy. I asked for a girl. So that was on my list. KING: Your relationships have been tempestuous, right? I mean, passionate and then they end, and they end passionate, right?

TUCKER: Passionate. I've always -- I've always -- I'd like to stay friends, you know, it's not been easy for the other halves, you know. But I guess it's tough.

KING: They're not friends?

TUCKER: It's tough, because I think probably because I'm in the limelight, you know, and it's -- you know, they don't like being exposed so much to that whole side of the, you know, with everybody knowing their business. You know? I mean, I'm sort of used to it. I don't guess you ever totally get used to, but you got to let it roll off of your back.

KING: You're used to seeing your name in the paper, used to seeing stories about you.

TUCKER: Yeah, you know, and I start worrying -- as long as they lie about me in the rags I don't mind it, but once they start telling the truth I'm going to be in big trouble.

KING: The last breakup to Laseter was in December, right?


KING: You left or he left?

TUCKER: Well, he had to leave, because it was my house.


TUCKER: I told him if it was his house, I would have been gone a while back. No, I just wanted to be amicable. I wanted to be friends. We had a beautiful child together. We -- if we don't ever do anything else the rest of our lives, we did a great thing there. And for her sake, I want us to be always be friends, for her.

KING: Would you like to get in another relationship? Do you want to marry again?

TUCKER: Well, I've never been married.

KING: You never been married?


KING: Why not?

TUCKER: I just -- just seems that something always came up, you know. I'm such -- marriage is a very big, very big commitment. I think people take it too lightly these days, and I just wanted -- I wanted it one time, that's it.

KING: Do your children ever ask why you didn't marry? TUCKER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, Presley asked me, you know, she was -- Elvis was trying to kiss me one night and I wouldn't let him and she said, what?

KING: Did Elvis try to kiss you?

TUCKER: Silly, mother.

KING: Elvis tried to kiss you?

TUCKER: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, saying good night, you know. I was leaving the back stage and he got up and, you know, like anything. And of course, I said no. And I was 17 when I first met him, but you know, she just can't believe that, that I would turn down a kiss from Elvis Presley, but I remember my dad telling me on the way up there, he said, "Now, Tanya, remember, he said, that Elvis, he can get any girl he wants, you know." So I thought, well, any girl but me.

KING: What was he like?

TUCKER: Oh, he was -- I think God probably -- well he knew that I needed that night to be perfect, and it was really perfect. He was such a gentleman.

KING: I never heard a bad thing about him.

TUCKER: Oh, God, everything -- everything was perfect. He even had the police (ph) come out and get me in the audience, and...

KING: Really?

TUCKER: And I thought that's the way you should be when you have a talent that comes to see you. Wayne Newton is also another one that's...

KING: Great guy.

TUCKER: He is one of the greatest performers of all time, who I would love to produce my live show, by the way, because I think he understands. But, you know, to be, to honor your cohorts, your peers when they come to see you, I think it's a wonderful thing when you're graceful to them, graceful, you know, show a lot of...

KING: Do you like recording more than performing in person?

TUCKER: Oh, I go in and out. You know, sometimes I love to -- but as a mainstay, I think performing is my favorite all over, but recording is now something I've done, produced this last album along with Jerry, and I tell you what, I think I could get into that big time, maybe even with other acts, I don't know.

KING: More recording?

TUCKER: Oh, yeah, yeah. Recording. I'd like to do a Christmas album. I've never done a Christmas album. I'd like to do a spiritual album. And I'd like to probably do one with one of my kids one of these days because they're very talented.

KING: You like the studio atmosphere, you like the whole thing about it?

TUCKER: Yeah, I think you kind of create...

KING: Doing tracks and...

TUCKER: I love it, and you can go back over -- it's like wish life was that way, go back and erase it.

KING: You have the patience for it, though, right?

TUCKER: Patience, and you also have to have an ear.

KING: Our guest is Tanya Tucker. We're going to go to your phone calls. Don't forget, tomorrow night, Richard Clarke. He testifies tomorrow. You'll see it on CNN before the special presidential commission looking into 9/11. He's made some startling changes about the Clinton and Bush administrations. He'll be our special guest tomorrow night, following his testimony.

We'll be back with your calls for Tanya Tucker right after this.



KING: If you're watching this early, she's performing tonight at the House of Blues here in Hollywood. Our guest is Tanya Tucker, the singer of nine Billboard No. 1 country singles, 30 other top ten songs, then was Grammy nominated at age 15. Let's go to your calls. Hanford, California for Tanya Tucker. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tanya. I would like to know if you returned the ten-carat diamond ring from your ex-fiance.

TUCKER: Oh, yes.

KING: Tell us that story.

TUCKER: Actually, yes. I have a copy of it on tonight, but no...

KING: Who gave you that?

TUCKER: Jerry gave it, 10.10 is my birthday...

KING: Jerry...

TUCKER: Jerry Laseter, my ex-fiance. But 10/10 is my birthday so he gave me a 10.10-carat diamond ring. Too bad my birthday wasn't in December. But it's a beautiful ring and I did give it back...

KING: And you returned it?

TUCKER: I did give it back.

KING: Do you think that was the proper thing to do because it was a gift?

TUCKER: Absolutely...

KING: Ben Affleck says he expects J. Lo to keep the ring he gave her.

TUCKER: That's a good boy. But -- if he was a really, really extremely wealthy man...

KING: How do you afford a 10-carat ring?

TUCKER: Well, extremely wealthy, kind of like you.

KING: Chicago with Tanya Tucker.

TUCKER: I would keep it if he gave it to me today.

KING: Chicago, go ahead.

CALLER: Tanya, this is Shirley (ph).

TUCKER: Hi, Shirley.


TUCKER: This is a great fan of mine.

CALLER: How are you?

TUCKER: You little nut, how are you doing?

CALLER: I miss you.

TUCKER: I miss you, too.

CALLER: I'll come and see you soon.

TUCKER: OK, darling.

CALLER: Are you -- is Presley any closer to maybe signing a record deal?

KING: Your daughter sings?

TUCKER: Oh, yes.

KING: How old is she?

TUCKER: She's 14.

KING: Another Tanya?

TUCKER: Well, I think she's a lot better than I was, to be honest. Because I told her, you know, Presley, if you ever decide to get into this business that I'm in, I hope, I want you to be better than I am. You've got to be better than I am.

KING: You think she's better?

TUCKER: I think so.

KING: What about her record?

TUCKER: She's a normal kid, she loves going to school, she's a straight-A student.

KING: Where's home, where do you live?

TUCKER: Right outside of Franklin, Tennessee. We live on a 500- acre ranch, beautiful ranch. Our home is 30,000 square feet, and we have the most beautiful place in the world.

KING: Will she sing professionally, do you think?

TUCKER: I don't know. I really don't know. She's not as hungry as I was. I was a lot hungrier.

KING: You were a lot poorer.

TUCKER: She said if I were making money I ain't going to have this big house and the fancy cars.

KING: I said that's probably because you've had them all your life.

KING: South Shore, Kentucky, for Tanya Tucker, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Tanya, I want you to know I love you so much.

TUCKER: Thank you so much.

CALLER: I noticed that you said that you didn't know what you were singing when you were at the age of 13, what kind of advice do you give young artists not to stay away from tear jerker songs or do you think they should have something more their age? Do you think that affected you in relationships older on that you didn't know what you were singing at 13?

TUCKER: It's a good question, because to be believable is the only way that you could be successful. People don't believe what you're singing, then they're not going to buy the records. So like my dad said, it's a catch-22 of being a female and being a young female is even harder. Hopefully -- I would suggest to a youngster now to stay within the realm of the songs that are lighthearted...

KING: So you'd be singing a song at 15 and you didn't know what it meant, right?

TUCKER: Absolutely, but nobody could tell it, though. My dad, you know, I've had so many people tell me, how do you put that much feeling in a song and you're only 11 years old?

KING: Do you ever get tired of "Delta Dawn?"

TUCKER: Never.

KING: That is a great song.

TUCKER: I think this song -- what makes a great song is it transcends time. I think that that song, if I play it today, it'll be a hit record today.

KING: Absolutely, no question about it. Means (ph), Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: My kids went to school with Tanya's daughter last year, and they were curious to know how she was doing and how her other two children are doing since Tanya graciously performed a concert for the local school there, for the band.

TUCKER: Oh, out in Chapel Hill.

CALLER: Yes. I don't want to say the name of the school. We know Presley and Presley is just a great kid. She is so wonderful.

TUCKER: Thank you so much. The other day, Presley was riding in the car with me, we were going shopping and she puts in a CD of a performance on a radio talk show that I have never heard before and she's singing, "I'm so lonesome, I could cry" and just hearing the guitar player...

KING: Presley?

TUCKER: I got chills. I said, Presley, this is great. She was 12 years old when she did it, and she's doing great. She loves school, she loves her horses, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), loves his fishing, he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) real bad, and he's our sportsman of the family, and of course, Leila is just the light of all of our lives.

KING: The reason Presley is thinking about other things is she's not as crazy about show business?

TUCKER: Well, I think that she's -- I think she thinks it's a safety net. I think in the back of her mind she's saying when I get ready, mom will help me handle all that.

KING: She knows she can sing.

TUCKER: Oh, yes, she's got to know.

KING: Hollywood, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I met you in 1978 at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) during the Grand National Rodeo.

TUCKER: I won the buckle that year. CALLER: You did, and I was a judge that gave it to you. What was life like following hollering and hopping around during the rodeo circus?

KING: You did the rodeo circus?

TUCKER: Actually, the first time I was ever engaged was to...

KING: A rodeo cowboy?

TUCKER: A bronc rider. A PRCA professional bronc rider. One of the best, I might add. His name was Bobby Brown, and they called him Hooter Brown and he was one of the best bronc riders of all time. And for a while, I hit quite a few rodeos, and the rodeo crowd was really my crowd for a while there.

KING: You sang for them?

TUCKER: Oh, every night they'd have guitar pools and everybody sang. It was a lot of fun. I have great memories from those days, just singing all night long and rodeoing during the day and I like the rodeo group.

KING: They're a unique breed.

TUCKER: Totally different breed.

KING: Did he ever get badly hurt?

TUCKER: No, he didn't. He was the one that would fan the horse's head and then almost do the splits in midair and land on his feet and the crowd loved that. He did like Casey Tibbs (ph).

KING: Tampa, hello.

CALLER: My question for Tanya Tucker is regarding you said it was -- in order to be successful, you'd said, to be believable. My question to you as far as the reality shows of today say the talent shows of "American Idol," "Nashville Star," do you feel that perhaps some of these singers don't really get a realistic view of what it is like to be a country and western star if they haven't really cut their teeth and made their way up from the bottom?

TUCKER: There's no way to be able to tell what it's like to be a country singer until you're walking in the shoes. I'm surprised no one has done a reality show on a singer, the country singer.

KING: I think they are starting. Nashville network.

TUCKER: Say I was that person they chose to do that. You know, show me the money, but it would be like a Tanya cam on me and that would be difficult to do. They film you when you're sad, when you're having an argument with somebody. You're opening yourself up just like this and showing it all.

KING: Why are country people, country show business people, more open than any other jazz or...

TUCKER: They're just a friendlier sort of people. Look what they say, go down south, everybody's hi y'all, how are you doing? Neighbors are waving.

KING: They are the easiest access superstars, right?

TUCKER: They are, they are, and but at the same time, we've got some great fans. We've got great fans that rock and roll won't have, because you can have a one-hit record and country music used to, not so much anymore and you have a fan forever.

KING: Before we go to break what did you make of the Janet Jackson thing at the Super Bowl?

TUCKER: Well, you know, controversy, everybody will be talking about that for years to come, whether it was intended or not, intentional, I don't know, but either way, I think it put a little pizzazz in the whole darn thing if you ask me.

KING: Did it bother you?

TUCKER: If the Cowboys and Titans ain't playing, I'm not interested.

KING: You're a Titan and Cowboy fan?

TUCKER: Well now, I'm a Titan fan because I'm part of Nashville now.

KING: Not a bad team.

TUCKER: So I like the TT, you know, the Tennessee Titans. The whole thing just kind of blends right with me.

KING: Texas Tornadoes.


KING: We'll be back with more and more calls for Tanya Tucker. Don't go away.




KING: You didn't know what you were singing, did you?



TUCKER: I think I probably had some idea, you know. KING: By the way, I just asked Tanya during the break how she got "Delta Dawn," and apparently Bette Midler had sung it on "The Tonight Show."

TUCKER: Yeah, she put it on an album.

KING: It was in one of her albums, and she sang the song...

TUCKER: Yeah, and Billy Sherrill, my first producer, heard it. And they'd already -- we'd been listening to songs for weeks, actually a week and a half, and they brought the song -- Al Galliko (ph) brought the song in, I already had the record pressed. It was "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA," and Donna Fargo. And I had listened to it and I said, no, you all, I think it's a great song, but it's just not my song. And so all those guys, Norell Wilson (ph) and all the guys slinked out of there thinking Billy Sherrill lost his mind, he's starting to listen to a 13-year-old kid. And he said, you heard her, boys, and they filed out of there. And so he next proceeded to play me Alex Harvey's version of "Delta Dawn," the writer.

KING: So Bette Midler had never made a single of it?


KING: But had recorded it first.

TUCKER: Recorded it, actually it was a couple of people that recorded it first. Another girl named, God, what was her name? Big blues singer.

KING: Really?


KING: Bridgeport, West Virginia, for Tanya Tucker. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tanya. My name's Wendy.

TUCKER: Hi, Wendy.

CALLER: And I met you back in '93 in Charleston, West Virginia, and I even got to sit on the stage with you, and I even named my daughter, Presley, after your Presley.

TUCKER: Oh, that's great.

CALLER: But my question to you is, can you describe your childhood?

TUCKER: Now, did you say Charleston, West Virginia?


TUCKER: Because that's where her grandparents live.

CALLER: Really? TUCKER: Presley's -- Ben's parents live there.

KING: What was your childhood like?

TUCKER: My childhood, my childhood? Oh, so good I'd like to go back sometimes.

KING: But poor?

TUCKER: Oh, we were poor, but I didn't really know it. You know? I didn't really recognize that until looking back later.

KING: You have brothers and sisters?

TUCKER: My older brother, Don, seven years older than my sister, Lacosta, who is seven years older than me. A lot of sevens.

KING: What did your dad do?

TUCKER: My dad is the seventh son. And he -- when I grew up, when I was growing up in Arizona, he did everything. There wasn't much of anything he couldn't do, from drilling water wells to selling junk iron. To -- he was also a fine, fine welder. He did a lot of welding work. He built the things that go on the Telluride ride, a ski lift -- you know, you've been to Telluride?

KING: Yeah.

TUCKER: Those things you go over on the ski lift, he built those. So he's pretty much -- there's not much my dad can't do.

KING: Clinton, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Good evening. Tanya, I'd like to -- being the star that you are and being an admirer of you for over -- well, I'm 69 -- and enjoyed many, many songs that you've recorded. One thing that brings me to the question I have would be, have you made any commercials that are discouraging young people from the drugs?

KING: Have you dealt in the anti-drug problems at all?

TUCKER: No, I haven't been as involved. I'm sure I'll probably get around to that, because, you know, I'd pretty much like to lend my voice to anything that's going to be -- to make a change and be for the betterment of anybody, of all -- for the world.

KING: By the way, you are the voice of the NASCAR theme song on CBS.


KING: You sang that song when CBS had the races.

TUCKER: Yeah, we just went in and did that. But when I saw my first NASCAR race, and Geoff Bodine invited me, and that's why I was there -- he almost won that race that day. But I looked around, I said, you know, this is my public. This is -- why aren't we putting country music and NASCAR together? You know, does anybody have eyes around here? Because it just makes sense.

KING: Sure.

TUCKER: And they still haven't done it like I think it could be.


TUCKER: We got 150,000 people there the night before, let's do something to entertain them.

KING: You would think, yeah. Nashville, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tanya.

TUCKER: Oh, Nashville.

CALLER: I think you're the best. You're just the best.

TUCKER: Oh, gosh, yeah, that's going a little -- a little far there. But thank you.

CALLER: I noticed that you recorded your last record on Tuckertime Records, your label.


CALLER: I was wondering, do you have an interest in finding new talent somewhere down -- I mean, somewhere down the future and maybe signing them on your label, or what are your plans with your label?

TUCKER: Someone asked me that the other day, and I said, well, I'd love to get this thing with me right first. You know, I just -- I can't see helping anybody else out until I get my stuff straight. You know?

KING: Columbia, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Tanya. I've been a big fan of yours for years and I was just wondering, I heard back several months ago that Jerry Laseter had kidnapped your little daughter, Layla, and I was wondering, when he brought her back to you, what you did to him and if there was truth to that at all?

TUCKER: Well, you know, I'm -- I happen to be very forgiving, and there are some things I probably shouldn't forgive, but I am...

KING: Did he take her, though?

TUCKER: I just want to keep peace. You know?

KING: Did he take her away?

TUCKER: Well, he's got her right now, and I can't -- he won't -- he wouldn't bring her back. She was supposed to be on the plane. He didn't make the plane, and I tried to call, it's been five days.

KING: But you see her, right?

TUCKER: It's been five days. No, it's been five days since I've seen her, and he didn't bring her back. So he's keeping her, and that's interfering with my custody.

KING: Have you filed a case?

TUCKER: I'm going to have to, I guess.

KING: Do you know where he is?

TUCKER: He's somewhere in Nashville. But, you know, I've done nothing but try to make it so -- you know, I don't talk bad about him. I praise him as far as her. If there's anything I want to say bad about Jerry, it's not in front of Layla.

KING: Did he take her away before?

TUCKER: Oh, yeah, several times, yeah, and it's just -- it really makes me so angry, you know, that -- and it's really not only that, but it messes me up mentally.

KING: Did you file charges?

TUCKER: Well, I'm going to have to, I guess. You know.

KING: Roanoke, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Tanya, it's a pleasure to speak with you. I see a lot of you in like Jo Dee Messina, some of the newer performers today. And I'd like to know who your favorite female country singer is that's considered popular today?

TUCKER: Well, you know, there's not too many of them I don't like. You know, I mean, that would probably be the easier thing to say, the ones I don't like, because I think they all have their own distinctive talent. But I tell you of someone I'm really excited about right now is -- and it's not just because she mentions me in her new song -- but her name is Gretchen Wilson, and she's hot. She's got a song called "Redneck Woman" out, and she knows every word to every Tanya Tucker song it's so cool. So than I went down, and my video producer, Joanne Gardner, who has done most of the videos you said tonight, she called and said "I'm doing this thing with Gretchen Wilson, and Would you do a cameo?"

Of course, I did it for Joanne, but when I heard the song and hung out with Gretchen, a little while. I knew it was definitely for Gretchen, too.

KING: We'll be back in a moment with Tanya Tucker. Don't forget, tomorrow might, Richard Clarke, his testimony, don't go away.








KING: You're not bad, you know.

TUCKER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because I was five months pregnant during that thing and all of my clothes just kind of...

KING: Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Tanya Tucker...

TUCKER: Hello.

CALLER: I was wondering when the next time you might be on the Grand Ole Opry.

TUCKER: Gosh, I love to show up every now and then and do the Grand Ole Opry. I did it about a years ago with him last time (ph).

KING: He'll do again though?


KING: Mercer, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Tanya. It's good to talk to both of you. Tanya I'm a lifetime fans of yours and I want to let you know that I took my three daughters to see you at Ponderosa Park over in Ohio. I'm not sure if you remember, my two younger daughters had given you a letter and explained to you that we lost my mother in July and you had dedicated "Two Spares and a Hurricane" to her.

KING: Do you have question, dear? We are closing in on time.

CALLER: Yes, I wanted to thank you for that. I also wanted to ask you what, is your most memorable fan as well as...

KING: Do have you any most memorable fan?

TUCKER: As far as fans?

KING: Yes.

TUCKER: As far as fans go.

KING: You must have clubs.

TUCKER: Gosh -- of course my fan club, I really cherish that. My sister operates the fan club.

KING: You can't pick out one, though, can you?

TUCKER: Do what?

KING: Can't pick out one can you?

TUCKER: Well, there's many.

KING: Today's your father's birthday?

TUCKER: Yes, I wanted to wish my dad a happy birthday. Happy birthday to you and I love you.

KING: Hendersonville, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry, how are you doing tonight.

KING: Fine. Get on -- move it along.

CALLER: I would like to tell you, that woman from a cross the table from you is the most honest women that you could ever want to meet and the most caring. I was her production manager last year.


KING: Are you a cowboy?

CALLER: Yes, I'm cowboy.

TUCKER: Hi. I recognize your voice.

CALLER: Hey. When are we going to get this doggone Christmas album, done?

TUCKER: I know it. I know it. It's something I definitely want to do, but it's also great that I have a few (UNINTELLIGIBLE) left.

KING: We're running out of time. You work with the homeless?

TUCKER: Well, we're doing this show tonight in Hollywood for the homeless folks and people I've asked them to bring a can of goods.

KING: At the House of Blues.

TUCKER: You know, -- 8,000 children in L.A. alone.

KING: And someone told know ask you about Stone Phillips?

What about him?

We're almost out of time.

TUCKER: Stone Phillips is and absolutely wonderful person, and I enjoyed the time we spent together. He's very professional and very much a Tanya Tucker fan. KING: Boy, you got him, Tanya. Thank you, darling.

TUCKER: Thank you. I'm such a fan of yours. Look at all of the hall of fame awards you've got there.

KING: Tanya Tucker, we'll come back in a minute and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.





KING: Richard Clarke testifies tomorrow before that presidential committee looking to 9/11. He'll be on this show tomorrow night. Richard Clarke, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Welcome back. Welcome back. Aaron Brown is back. Back after the torments and travails of the Middle East, he returns to once again host "NEWSNIGHT."


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