The Skeeter Davis Story
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 Like the life it describes, Mary Frances Penick's story of her rise to prominence as country-and-rockabilly star ``Skeeter Davis'' (best known for her crossover hit ``The End of the World'') has its share of excitement and of tedium. Davis, offspring of poor Appalachian farmers, endured a family history of alcoholism, incest, and murder: Many of the most gripping moments here come early on, as we learn of the murder of the author's grandfather by an uncle, and of her mother's attempted suicide. Davis writes with clarity and understanding about her parents' struggle with alcohol, her early career with singing partner B.J. Davis, and her virtual imprisonment by her mother in the wake of a friend's accidental death. Perhaps because she's so sympathetic, the author proved a magnet for some highly disturbed men: Few will watch former husband Ralph Emery's TV talk show with the same eyes after reading of Davis's marriage to him. There's also insight here about country's evolution--including evolution of the twin-necked pedal steel guitar, built to imitate Davis's unique harmonic style (a style that influenced the Everly Brothers and, by extension, many others), and of Chet Atkins's recording innovations. But despite Davis's good will, later chapters--with their domestic scenes and descriptions of travel and interactions with admirers, including a patronizing account of an evangelical tour of Africa--will appeal only to hard-core Davis fans; nor do consecutive accounts of the deaths of Davis's mother, father, and youngest sister lighten the load. Despite the reservations: an absorbing memoir by an appealing woman. (Photographs)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55972-191-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993