Ever find yourself longing for the classic sound of country music from the 60s? We understand entirely; there's just something unique about the melodies and lyrics from that era.
In this blog, we've compiled a list of some outstanding male and female country artists who defined this golden age of country music, including legends like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton. These are the best country singers of the 60s.
1. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash, a legendary country singer and songwriter, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic figures in American music history. With over 90 million records sold worldwide, he has left an indelible mark on the country music industry.
Known as “The Man in Black,” Cash's deep voice and heartfelt lyrics resonated with audiences across generations. Cash formed close friendships with fellow country stars like Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Faron Young throughout his career. Together, they created a tight-knit community within the music industry.
Cash often toured with his influential road troupe during the late 1960s and 1970s, and 1980s.
Johnny Cash's ability to push boundaries within the country and Western music set him apart. His innovative sound paved the way for new styles and allowed future artists to experiment with their unique sounds.
2. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is an iconic country singer and songwriter from the 60s. She has achieved incredible success in the music industry, winning multiple Grammy Awards and People's Choice Awards throughout her career.
Dolly Parton's talent and popularity have earned her titles such as Entertainer of the Year and Top Country Female Artist. She holds the impressive distinction of being Billboard's All-Time Top Female Country Artist.
What sets Dolly Parton apart is her ability to consistently produce chart-topping hits, making her the only woman to achieve number-one records in three different decades. Her musical legacy continues to inspire fans and fellow musicians alike.
Dolly Parton's contributions to country music go far beyond just singing – she is also a gifted songwriter. Her songs have become timeless classics, showcasing her storytelling ability and emotional depth.
With her unique voice and captivating stage presence, Dolly Parton has left an indelible mark on the genre that will forever be cherished by music lovers worldwide.
3. Sara Carter
Sara Carter was a pivotal figure in folk and country music, and part of the historic Carter Family. Born in Southwest Virginia in 1898, she grew to timelessly showcase her deep and distinctive voice.
This voice carved a path for her into musical acclaim and garnered widespread affection from fans across Appalachia.
Many will know Sara wasn't a solo performer all through; she had company on stage – Maybelle and Madge Addington were Sara's cousins and fellow musicians. Their artistic synergy created rich Appalachian tunes infused with heartfelt lyrics, leaving a lasting impact on the genre of country music.
The trio’s impeccable harmony is integral to the Carter Family's illustrious legacy. As both musician and songwriter, Sara brought us some unforgettable melodies within folk music that reverberate even now. Her unique vocal quality resonated deeply among listeners, making every song feel like a personal story from her heart to ours.
From folk anthems to iconic ballads, this masterful singer-songwriter showcased authentic Appalachian spirit through every note she sang.
4. Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline, born Virginia Patterson Hensley, ignited the music industry as one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. The world took notice not just because she was terrific at country; she successfully crossed over into pop music too.
This achievement helped propel her to icon status during her short but impactful career.
Tragedy struck in 1963 when Patsy Cline died at thirty, marking an untimely end to a blossoming legacy. However, this did not dim her star.
She remains an active presence in our hearts and radios today as one of the most popular female country singers in recording history. Her exceptional talents and influence continue to inspire generations of musicians across genres.
5. Conway Twitty
Conway Twitty, also known as Harold Lloyd Jenkins, was a renowned American singer and songwriter in the country music genre. With his unique blend of rockabilly and country sound, he carved out a successful career that left an indelible mark on the industry.
Throughout his impressive journey, Conway Twitty reached the top spot on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart 40 times. His contributions to country music are nothing short of legendary, making him a true icon in the field.
Fans continue to celebrate his timeless hits and appreciate the incredible talent that Conway Twitty brought to the stage.
6. Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard was an influential country music artist in the 1960s. He was known for his versatile style and ability to incorporate different musical genres into his repertoire. Considered one of the most essential singer-songwriters in country music history, Haggard emerged as a leading figure in the industry during this time.
Inspired by Johnny Cash, he pursued a singing career that significantly impacted the genre. Haggard's unique perspective and storytelling abilities earned him the nickname “Poet of the Common Man.”.
7. Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette was a highly influential and successful country music singer during the 60s. Her emotional delivery and unique tearful voice captivated the hearts of many, especially women.
She made her breakthrough in the music industry alongside her close friend Dolly Parton during this era. Tammy Wynette's vulnerability and relatable lyrics set her apart as one of the top female country singers of that time.
Despite her success, Tammy Wynette faced personal struggles throughout her life. She had five marriages and often played the role of a tragic heroine in her songs and public image. Tammy Wynette's impact on country music cannot be overstated. Her passionate performances touched millions, making her an unforgettable figure in the genre's history.
8. Roger Miller
Roger Miller was a multi-talented country singer and songwriter. He sang and played the guitar, fiddle, and drums. In addition to his musical talents, he succeeded in television and on Broadway.
Known for his honky-tonk style and novelty songs, Miller had a significant impact on country music in the 60s. He won five Grammy Awards in 1964 alone! One of his most famous hits was “Me and Bobbie McGee,” which he recorded before it became an iconic song thanks to Kris Kristofferson's rendition.
With catchy tunes like “Walking on Sunshine” and “Green Apples,” Miller made a lasting mark on the country music scene.
9. Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell was a talented country singer and musician who rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s. He became known for his hit songs, including the famous “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Alongside Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers, Campbell was part of a wave of country crossover stars who succeeded on both the country and pop charts.
His career spanned over fifty years, during which he produced numerous chart-topping hits and captivated audiences with his smooth vocals and heartfelt performances. Unfortunately in 2011, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but his impact on country music will never be forgotten.
10. Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings, a native of Little Field, Texas, was an influential figure in country music. He dropped out of high school and pursued his passion for music. Waylon became roommates with none other than Johnny Cash himself.
Considered one of the pioneers of the outlaw movement in country music, Waylon Jennings left a lasting impact on the genre. Rising from hardscrabble poverty in West Texas, he began his career as Buddy Holly's bassist.
From there, he went on to achieve great success as a singer and musician in his own right.
Waylon Jennings' unique style and rebellious spirit made him stand out among his peers.
His contributions to country music will always be remembered by fans worldwide. The legacy that Waylon left behind continues to inspire aspiring musicians and shape the future of country music.
11. Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is a legendary country music artist who significantly impacted the genre during the 1960s. She achieved her first of 16 No.1 hits as a solo artist in 1967, solidifying her place as one of country music's leading ladies.
Loretta Lynn's talent runs in the family, with her brother Jay Lee Webb and sisters Peggy Sue and Crystal Gayle becoming prosperous country recording artists by the decade's end.
With over 60 years in the industry, Loretta Lynn is often called the “Queen of Country Music.” Her incredible career includes 51 Top 10 hits and over 45 million albums sold worldwide.
She has received numerous awards throughout her journey for her outstanding contributions to country music, including four Grammy Awards.
12. Hank Williams, Jr.
Hank Williams Jr., the son of country music singer Hank Williams, is widely regarded as one of the best country singers of the 60s. He began his musical career at a young age, performing his father's songs on stage when he was eight.
Hank Jr. developed his unique musical style as he grew older by combining traditional country with other genres during the 1970s. This fusion of styles helped him create a distinct sound that resonated with fans nationwide.
With numerous hits throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Hank Williams Jr.'s impact on country music cannot be overstated. His contributions to the genre continue to influence and inspire musicians today.
13. Porter Wagoner
Porter Wagoner was a famous country singer in the 1960s and 1970s. He was known for his flashy stage presence, iconic blond hair, and extravagant Nudie and Manuel suits. Wagoner captivated audiences with his image and hosted a widely watched television show showcasing country music.
Starting from just 18 stations, the show grew to over 100 stations during its peak popularity in the early '70s. One of Wagoner's notable collaborations was with Norma Jean, another talented country singer who often performed alongside him.
Wagoner's impact on the genre went beyond his performances. His influential style and successful television show helped define the image of country music during that period.
With his memorable appearance and engaging performances, Porter Wagoner left a lasting mark on fans of country music and fellow artists.
14. Buck Owens
Buck Owens was a talented country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Sherman, Texas. He played a significant role in popularizing the “Bakersfield sound” during the 1960s.
This unique subgenre of country music originated in California and focused on a raw and energetic style that resonated with listeners. Buck Owens was known for his exceptional singing skills and excelled as a multi-skilled artist.
His talents extended to guitar playing, songwriting, leading his band, and even managing aspects of the music business. With numerous hit songs under his belt, it's no wonder that Buck Owens was honored by being inducted into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
15. Connie Smith
Connie Smith is an American country music singer and songwriter. She gained popularity in the 1960s and mid-1970s with her success on the charts, scoring 19 top-10 hits.
Known for her powerful contralto vocals, Smith is considered a veteran performer in the country music scene. Fans admire her distinctive phrasing, wide vocal range, and strong delivery.
With her impressive talent and enduring career, Connie Smith continues to captivate audiences with her undeniable musical prowess.
16. Dottie West
Dottie West was an influential country singer and songwriter who made her mark in the 1960s. Born on October 11, 1932, in DeKalb County, Tennessee, she became known as one of the best female singers of her time. Dottie West had a successful career that spanned several decades and impacted the country music industry.
One of Dottie West's most well-known songs is “Country Sunshine,” which became a hit on the country music charts. This song showcased her unique vocals and captured the essence of the famous Nashville sound during that era.
In recognition of her talent and contribution to the music industry, Dottie West won a Grammy Award in 1964.
Dottie West's success as a female artist in a predominantly male-dominated industry paved the way for many women in music. She inspired aspiring singers and songwriters who wanted to make their mark in country music.
17. Lynn Anderson
Lynn Anderson was a talented country music singer who rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s. Born on September 26, 1947, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Lynn inherited her musical talent from her mother, Liz Anderson, a renowned singer-songwriter.
Lynn's most well-known recording is “Rose Garden,” which won her a Grammy Award and became a crossover hit. With her powerful vocals and captivating stage presence, she solidified herself as one of that era's best-known female country singers.
Sadly, Lynn Anderson passed away on July 30th, 2015, at 67, leaving behind a legacy of popular music that resonates with fans today.
18. Kitty Wells
Kitty Wells holds a special place in the history of country music. She was the first female artist to achieve a solo hit on the top of the country charts, paving the way for other talented women in the genre.
Known as the “Queen of Country Music,” Wells became a major star, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Her contributions to country music were recognized when she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976.
During her career, Wells had a string of hits from the '50s to the early '70s, solidifying her status as one of the best country singers of her time. Her powerful voice and emotional delivery resonated with audiences across America.
She received top female vocalist awards for an impressive 14 consecutive years.
Kitty Wells's impact on country music cannot be overstated. Her success opened doors for future generations, and her timeless songs continue to inspire artists today. She will always be remembered as one of the true legends in country music history.
19. June Carter Cash
June Carter Cash was a Grammy-winning country singer born on June 23, 1929, in Maces Spring, Virginia. She was known for her incredible singing talent and her contributions as a songwriter, author, dancer, actress, comedian, philanthropist, and humanitarian.
June came from a family of country music royalty and married the legendary Johnny Cash. As part of the Carter Family legacy, June Carter Cash made significant contributions to the world of country music. She performed alongside her husband, Johnny Cash, and they created numerous hit songs that became classics in the genre.
Her passion for music was evident through her powerful vocals and captivating performances.
Aside from her musical career, June Carter Cash pursued other creative endeavors. She wrote books about her life experiences and shared stories from the road with humor and authenticity.
She has multiple Grammy awards and an enduring legacy in country music history.
June Carter Cash's impact on the music industry and society will always be remembered.
20. Margie Singleton
Margie Singleton made her mark in the country music scene during the 1960s as a prominent solo recording artist and duet performer. Her unique voice and compelling performances captivated audiences, positioning her among notable figures of this era.
She had an incredible ability to harmonize with some of the biggest names in the country, sharing stage and studio moments with stars like George Jones and Faron Young.
Born on October 5, 1935, in Coushatta, LA, Margie quickly climbed the ladder of success due to her unmatched talent. The height of her musical journey arrived when she released her most celebrated hit song that swept across radio stations nationwide.
This achievement carved out a special place for Margie Singleton in country music history's annals.
21. Tom T. Hall
Tom T. Hall, known affectionately as “The Storyteller,” was a pivotal figure in the country music landscape of the 1960s. Born in 1936 in Olive Hill, Kentucky, Hall had a knack for creating lyrically rich, vivid narratives that resonated deeply with his audience.
His most famous songs, like “Harper Valley PTA” and “Ballad of Forty Dollars,” weren't just music; they were captivating stories that explored the breadth of the human experience.
By the end of the 60s, his influence had begun to change the storytelling paradigm in country music, setting the stage for a more reflective and narrative-driven direction in the genre.
22. Charley Pride
Charley Pride was a trailblazer in country music in the 1960s, breaking barriers as one of the genre's first black superstars. Born in 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride's smooth baritone and traditional sound resonated deeply with audiences. His impressive string of hits, including “Just Between You and Me” and “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me),” demonstrated that great music transcends racial and cultural boundaries.
In an industry dominated by white artists, Pride's immense success marked a significant milestone for diversity in country music.
23. Bobby Bare
Bobby Bare, a pivotal figure in the country music scene of the 1960s, brought an unmistakable authenticity to his music that continues to resonate with audiences.
A pioneer of the Outlaw Country movement, Bare's willingness to push boundaries and challenge the status quo helped reshape country music, making it more reflective of the times and personal experiences.
24. Maybelle Carter
Maybelle Carter was a pioneer in country music. She was born on May 10, 1909, and her contribution to the genre is unforgettable. Known as “Mother Maybelle,” she was a talented musician and a member of the renowned Carter Family trio.
One of her significant contributions to country music was being one of the first musicians to use the Carter style of guitar playing. Sadly, Maybelle Carter passed away on October 23, 1978, leaving an incredible legacy that continues to influence and inspire generations of country musicians today.
25. Wanda Jackson
The infamous “Queen of Rockabilly” transformed her sound in the 1960s. Wanda Jackson stepped far from her roots and to a more country and pop-oriented sound. This shift allowed her to appeal to a broader audience while still maintaining her unique vocal style.
Wanda achieved significant crossover success with the song “Let's Have a Party,” which became one of her signature hits. Blengin rockabilly and pop influences and Wanda was a staple name for country in this decade, and it showed her ability to adapt to changing musical trends.
26. Eddy Arnold
Often referred to as the “Tennessee Plowboy”, Eddy Arnold was one of the best country singers of the 1960s. Known for his smooth voice and crossover appeal, Arnold's style of country music often incorporated elements of pop, which made it easier to listen for new audiences of the genre.
Some of his notable hits from this era include “Make the World Go Away,” “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me,” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.” The 1960s saw Arnold incorporating modern production techniques and arrangements while still having his distinct voice and emotional delivery at the forefront of every track.
27. Roy Acuff
Nicknamed the “King of Country Music”, in the 1960s, Roy Acuff was already a highly respected figure due to his contributions in the previous decades. He had established himself as a pioneer, known for his traditional country sound and his involvement in the Grand Ole Opry, where he still constantly performed in this decade.
While his commercial success had peaked in the earlier decades, Acuff still released several albums and recordings during the 1960s. His music typically stayed true to his traditional country roots, and was mainly seen as a performer more so than a recording artist.
Top Country Singers Of The 60s, Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the 60s was a golden era for country music and produced some of the greatest singers ever. From the powerful vocals of Patsy Cline to the storytelling genius of Johnny Cash, these artists left an indelible mark on both country music and popular culture.
Their timeless songs continue to captivate audiences today and solidify their status as true legends in the genre.