“Lady” Marion Worth, sultry ballad singer on the Grand Ole Opry for 17 years, died Dec. 17 at Tennessee Christian Medical Center in Nashville of complications from emphysema. She was 64.
Worth, one of the first country music performers to appear at Carnegie Hall, was a native of Birmingham, Ala., and learned piano from her father but later took up guitar.
She launched her music career with her own radio show and during the 1950s was one of several female singers, including Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells, who broke down the tradition of using women only as background singers in country music.
The petite singer performed at the Grand Ole Opry from 1963 until her retirement in 1980. Her recordings for Columbia and Decca Records included her top hit “Shake Me, I Rattle,” which crossed over into pop. Other hits included “Crazy Arms,” “Are You Will Wile,” “A Woman Needs Love” and “Ma Says.”