TOIL AND TROUBLE

The wedding's off as Tanya Tucker and her ex-fiance lock horns in a nasty fight over custody of their 4-year-old daughter.

Tanya Tucker, years ago dubbed the "Texas Tornado," has a personal life that remains as stormy as ever. During a recent appearance on CNN's Larry King Live, the feisty singer recalled details of her tumultuous relationship with Glen Campbell and her past problems with drugs and alcohol.

But Tanya also told the talk-show host of ongoing difficulties with ex-fiance Jerry Laseter over custody of the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Layla. The latest battle erupted just days before her appearance on the cable TV show in Los Angeles.

Laseter, a songwriter, was supposed to bring Layla to the airport so she could travel with her mother. But he - and Layla - didn't show up in time for the flight.

"It's been five days since I've seen her," Tanya told King. "He's keeping her, and that's interfering with my custody."

Tanya claimed it wasn't the first time her ex has breeched their custody agreement. When King asked if he'd kept Layla against the rules in the past, she replied, "Oh yeah, several times. It really makes me so angry. It messes me up mentally."

Tanya's relationship with Jerry began in storybook fashion when they met in 1997. They began to write songs together, and within months they were engaged. A wedding date - January 1999 - was announced. But the bliss didn't last and the date was soon cancelled. What's more, it kicked off a regular pattern of making and breaking marriage plans over the years, as the relationship grew even more tempestuous.

"We have had some pretty bad knock-down, drag-out arguments," she admitted to Country Weekly in 1999. That year, Laseter was arrested on charges of domestic violence after he had pushed Tanya and she hit her head on a bedpost. The charges were later dropped by a judge after Laseter completed an anger-management course.

Despite the fighting, they held on and continued to make plans for the future. They worked together on the 2002 comeback album Tanya, with Laseter contributing many of the songs and producing the album with the singer.

But last June the end seemed near when Laseter moved out of Tanya's 30,000-square-foot home in Arrington, Tenn., and they agreed to share custody of Layla. Laseter also would be allowed to visit 14- year-old Presley and 12-year-old Grayson (Tanya's children with actor Ben Reed, whom she never married).

The arrangement seemed to work until Tanya changed the locks to the property last October. When Laseter discovered his keys no longer worked, yet another blowup ensued. According to a court petition Tanya filed, he began "ranting and raving and calling her names." He also became violent and "pushed her, poked her in the chest and face with his finger and told her that he wished he could 'blow [her] head off,' " Tanya said.

The singer later dropped all charges, but judging from her words on Larry King's show, the couple continues to struggle to find a compatible way to live separately.

"I happen to be very forgiving," Tanya said. "There are some things I probably shouldn't forgive, but I am. I just want to keep peace, you know?"

-- Michael McCall

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