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Jeanne Pruett first came to Nashville in 1956 with her husband, Jack, a guitarist in Marty Robbins' band. Like most hopefuls who move to Music City, Jeanne was intent on a singing and recording career. But she found more success as a songwriter than a vocalist when Marty, Tammy Wynette and other established stars began recording her tunes.
By the early '70s, Jeanne the singer had charted only one Top 40 tune, "Love Me," in 1972. She desperately needed a hit, and would eventually get it - but not from her own pen.
The song that would turn her life around was called "Satin Sheets," a touching lament about a woman who has all the material things in life, but is unhappy in her marriage. Ironically, it was written by a man - on his first attempt at songwriting.
John Volinkaty, an amateur writer in Minneapolis, formed the song in his head while in a grocery store. By the time he finished shopping, about a half hour later, he had completed "Satin Sheets."
The song literally came out of nowhere, he insists. John chalks up the inspiration to "divine intervention."
However it may have happened, he churned out a heavenly hit. Jeanne took "Satin Sheets" to No. 1 on May 26, 1973, and it stayed at the top for three consecutive weeks. Beyond its chart success, the song made Jeanne a bona fide star. That same year, she received a CMA Female Vocalist nomination and was also welcomed as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
"That was the kind of song you could hang your career on," notes Jeanne, who still performs regularly on the Opry. "It took me from an unknown to a household word."
Unfortunately for John Volinkaty, the magic never appeared again. But he can rightly proclaim that he penned a true country classic - and a tune that still endures as Jeanne Pruett's signature song.