In the summer of 1978, country music icon Tammy Wynette entered her fifth marriage, this time to George Richey. Richey, known for his role as a songwriter, music publisher, and record producer, had a history intertwined with Wynette’s career, having penned songs for George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Wynette herself.
Their relationship transitioned from professional to personal due to a series of events in Wynette’s life. Richey’s visits during her hospitalizations marked a turning point, culminating in a confession of love after a recording session. This heartfelt moment led to their union.
Becoming her manager, Richey took on a significant role in Wynette’s life. His actions, however, ignited tensions within Tammy’s inner circle. The singer’s youngest daughter, Georgette Jones, revealed that Richey’s attempts to isolate her mother from loved ones created strife. Georgette wrote in her 2011 memoir ‘The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George’:
“[Richey] tried very hard to separate mom from her family and friends so he could be the only person she could turn to. I think she felt like she had no choice, and it was too difficult to fight.”
Wynette’s health struggles were a constant companion, driving her to undergo numerous surgeries and cope with chronic pain. Unfortunately, her resilience was accompanied by an increasing reliance on painkillers. Georgette held Richey partly accountable for this, as she also stated in her book:
“There are some people who witnessed mom saying she didn’t want any pain medication, to not give her anymore, and Richey would continue to inject her anyway. There were times when she did want it because she was in pain, and he refused to give it to her.”
Georgette Jones also disclosed that Richey’s hold over her mother extended to her relationship with her biological father, George Jones. Richey’s control over Wynette’s life strained the family dynamics.
Despite public declarations of affection, behind-the-scenes accounts suggested a more complex reality. Georgette Jones characterized the relationship as emotionally abusive. Yet, despite the challenges, Richey and Wynette remained together until Tammy’s death in 1998.