'Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans' hit No. 1

Country singer Mel McDaniel, who had a string of hits in the 1980s, died on Thursday after a fight with cancer. He was 68.

Best known for his No. 1 country hit “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” and his frequent appearances at the Grand Ole Opry, McDaniel also infiltrated radio playlists with the oft-covered “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Big Ole Brew.”

Born in Oklahoma in 1942, McDaniel endured a slow rise to stardom, spending several frustrating years in Nashville before decamping to Alaska, where he developed a following playing in clubs and for oil field workers. Returning to the country music capital, he signed with Capitol Records in 1976 and released his first record, “Gentle to Your Senses,” a year later.

It wasn’t until 1980’s “Louisiana Saturday Night” that McDaniel scored his first hit. “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” became his first and only country chart-topper in 1985, and the album it led off, “Let It Roll,” proved his highest-charting LP, reaching No. 4 on the country charts. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry the following year.

In 1996, McDaniel suffered a near-fatal fall into the orchestra pit at a Louisiana show and never fully regained his health. He cut the full-length “Reloaded” in 2006, and fought back from a heart attack that left him comatose in 2009 but was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after. He nonetheless continued to play and record, appearing at the reopening of the Grand Ole Opry after its flood-related closure last September.

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